Monthly Archives: November 2013

The process of moving Hit Coffee from WordPress 1.5 to 3.5 was not easy. There was no direct route short of sequentially installing virtually every version in between. The tricky part being the database. What I ended up doing instead was a 32-step process to incorporate the data from 1.5 into the appropriate tables and fields in 3.5. This was a 32-step process. Not just writing the code, but figuring out what the code had to do.

Two of the remaining problems have been the comments on the archives. There were two specific problems: First, the comments were not appearing in order. Second, the number of comments wasn’t showing up. It would say 0 whether there were 0 or 26. And when there were twenty six, they appeared in what seemed to be a random order.

I finally had enough of that this past week and started digging into the guts of the database to figure out what the problem was. Turns out, they were both products based on fields that did not exist in 1.5. In the case of the ordering, it was based on a GMT field independent of the field containing the post’s date and time. In the case of numeration, there is a field on the posts table dedicated to that so that it doesn’t have to be calculated each and every time. I just had to populate the fields and we were good to go.

Long story short, the conversion to is a couple steps being closer to complete. The only thing remaining, that I am aware of, are the links to old items. Internally, a link to a post in November of 2007 will work. It someone clicks on a link at Ordinary Times, though, it won’t. The old URL’s included “index.php/” while the new ones do not.

Are there any other lingering issues that you’re aware of that have been nagging at you?

Category: Server Room

The OrdTimers are debating the recent trend of more and more retailers being open on Thanksgiving.

The thing is that I went to the local supermarket today and picked up our Thanksgiving Feast. A chicken, some turkey, potato salad, bread, mayo, pimento spread, and on and on. Before long we’re probably going to do it the old fashioned way by making our own, but we’re not quite there yet. And while I am sorry for those who have to work and don’t want to, it’s a real convenience being able to roll up there on Turkey Day and get everything. And, while I am there, baby oatmeal.

This is slightly different than what is being complained about, which is the shifting of Black Friday to Thanksgiving Day itself.

Unlike many in my cohort who either like shopping or hate Black Friday, I have no problem Black Friday but wouldn’t be caught dead at one of those sales. The prospect of going on one of those sprees makes the hair on my arm stand up. I don’t like shopping on good days, unless it’s for one of a few narrow areas of interest. And yet, I think Black Friday is fine for those who enjoy the experience. For those who take pride in the Good Deal. People who actually enjoy the chaos of it all. That’s not me, but it’s some people.

I remember when the Playstation 2 came out, my friends and I formed a party and went from one retailer to another trying to find a place that had it. We had no luck, but it was fun as all getout. I wanted one of those things, but I mostly enjoyed being on a mission with friends.

As y’all know, I’m an Android guy and not an iPhone guy. A lot of Android guys make fun of Applytes and their tendency to form camp out lines so that they can be the first to have a new iPhone or Apple product. I admit that I roll my eyes at them, but I kind of thing I am wrong to do so. For them, I’d imagine that it’s like the Playstation 2. You’re an enthusiast waiting in line with a bunch of other enthusiasts. I can imagine worse things.

But the movement onto Thanksgiving Day I see as more problematic. Mostly because, unlike Black Friday which would be a day without meaning save for the day that comes before it and that a lot of people get the day off, Thanksgiving Day is already its own thing and this is trampling on it. I honestly don’t even think that any specific retailer wants to trample on it. It’s a collective action problem. If Retailer A is closed on Thanksgiving and Retailer B is not, then Retailer B gets the sales. If both are closed, then everybody waits for Friday and no damage is done. In fact, Black Friday might even be better because people won’t cut their shopping trips short in order to get back home with their families. The only way this calculus is wrong is if everybody who does such things goes shopping both days and so they shop more and spend more. In which case, Retailer A could maybe wait until Friday anyway.

But I’m glad the local supermarket was open. For situations like Murali’s, I think it’s good to have some restaurants open as well. But not every place needs to be open, and when employees are overwhelmingly against the idea, it’s not a bad idea to consider that.

Category: Home, Market

hitcoffeestandPart of being an American means that you are always on the lookout for entrepreneurship opportunities even if you’re a risk-averse coward like I am.

Every now and again I come up with some business venture that somebody else should totally pursue. I say that I totally would if I had the money and some guts.
As often as not, these turn out to be a bad idea.

The most recent one is looking at the absolute lack of coffeehouses here in western Queenland. The county where I lived in Arapaho (Dent County) had 9,000 or so people and the town I lived in said county (Callie) had roughly half of that. The next largest town had less than three hundred people. The rest was rurally aportioned in the county. Callie had two coffeehouses, one coffee hut, and a Starbucks in the Safeway.

Lancaster County, where I presently live, has 50,000 people in it. Roughly 10,000 people live in the city of Stonebridge or its Kingsland counterpart, Southbridge. Given the coffee situation in Callie, you could imagine my surprise on our arrival when I discover that Stonebridge has… two coffee places, plus coffee at a bread and sandwich chain. Oh, and a Dunkin Donuts, of that counts. No Starbucks at all. No drive-thru huts. No drive-thru at all! And one of the two coffee places is five-minutes out of town and another has a rotten parking situation because it’s right downtown.

It seemed to me that this place was ripe for a new coffee place. If I had the money, I’d open one. Heck, I’d call it Hit Coffee! Surely this place is dying for more coffee-related options!

Evidently not. One of the two coffee places closed last month. And apparently there used to be a third, which closed before we got here. So now there’s only one.

One of my favorite coffee places of anywhere I lived was called Bad Ass Coffee (before it de-franchised). I even bought a t-shirt, in part because I liked the place and part because it had good t-shirts with its donkey mascots. Anyhow, imagine my surprise when I arrive out here and discover that the downtown coffee place (the one that just closed). I mean, a table with the Bad Ass logo on it. I asked them if they used to be a Bad Ass Coffee and they said that they bought the table at an auction.

If I were to open a coffee place, if it weren’t Hit Coffee, it would be Bad Ass Coffee. Because who doesn’t want to try coffee at a place called Bad Ass Coffee?

Category: Downtown

Dr. Phi has noticed that television is becoming less edited:

So I was quite surprised this summer when I was watching MGM and saw they were running She’s Gotta Have It apparently unedited. Maybe that’s just MGM, I thought. But then, a few days later, AMC showed the vampire movie The Hunger, also apparently unedited.

One of my guilty pleasures is USA’s Suits. It reminds of some of the good stuff from Boston Legal but without nearly as much in the way of sanctimony and lefty politics.

Apparently they got the go-ahead this most recent season to curse as much as they want. Whether they used to be able to curse at all or not, I do not know. But in the new season in one episode two of the characters are going all Clay Davis with “sheeeeeeeit” and batting it around back and forth throughout. But even that joke (“joke”) aside, the cursing has been ramped up hugely.

Rather than making it feel more mature, though, it makes it feel like the show is a ten year old who discovered a new word.

Category: Theater

The first MP3 player I ever used extensively was WinAmp, which may be going the way of the dodo:

Winamp is shutting down. The website and all of Winamp’s web services will shut down on December 20 and the desktop player will no longer be available for download.

Even if you don’t remember Winamp, you may remember the demo MP3 that played when you installed the app: “Winamp, it really whips the llama’s ass.”

As the article notes, the landscape of music-on-the-computer has changed a great deal over the years. But WinAmp isn’t really a historical relic for me. It’s what I still use. I’ve never really had reason to use anything else. Indeed, I use it now the same way I used it then.

I started my MP3 collection when WinAmp was on top, so I geared how I use it to Winamp 2.1. By which I mean, my music collection is organized in a series of folders and filenames. I actually have two copies of many of my MP3’s. In some cases, I have three. I have one set that is a folder for the artist all in one big bulk. Then, if I liked the artist enough to make road trip CDs, I would have another one with each folder denoting 80-minutes worth of music. When my car could play MP3 CDs, I added another set that just had the artist’s discography from beginning to end.

Sometimes I just wanted to listen an artist on random, so I’d just go to the first set of folders. If I wanted to listen to the good songs with the lackluster ones cut out, it would be the second. The third was if I really liked an artist’s entire catalog, if there were specific CDs that I wanted to listen to from start to end, or (as is increasingly the case) I was just too lazy to cut up the artist’s catalog into 80-minute chunks of greatness.

MP3 players today are all geared towards having managed libraries, which doesn’t work as well with my setup. The libraries do arrange by album and whatnot. I’m sure there are ways I could arrange them myself. Though in that case, it wouldn’t transfer so easily to my car which doesn’t have anything so fancy as iTunes.

So I’m not a huge fan of the library system. On my phone, in my car, almost everything can handle just plain old folders with the songs organized by folders and filenames. With hard drive space so cheap, having multiple copies of the same file doesn’t cost much if anything.

WinAmp tried to get into the library mode. I suspect that most of its recent improvements were improvements on that corner of the house where I never treaded. In that sense, I guess, WinAmp’s possible retirement – unless Microsoft revamps it – doesn’t mean that much to me. I can probably use the most recent version indefinitely.

CGHill also comments.

Category: Market

A little while ago, one Seth Adam Smith wrote a piece that became a meme entitled “Marriage Isn’t For You.”

This was passed around among people I know, approvingly, though started to get some pushback. Kyle Cupp said (among other things):

[T]his advice is a recipe for abuse because it’s so easy to turn around: You shouldn’t be concerned with your own happiness, dear, but with mine. It’s not selfish to care about your own happiness. And, yes, selfishness isn’t good for marriage, but then neither is self-neglect. Smith is, unwittingly I’m sure, advising a disposition of self-neglect. That’s hugely problematic.

I get what Cupp and other detractors are saying, but I look at it another way. Similar to something I was told along the way: You should be responsible for 75% of the work in a relationship. Why? Not so that you can take on the lion’s share. Rather, because there are a lot of things that your partner is doing that you don’t realize, and if you think you’re going about 75% of the work in a relationship, you’re probably doing about half.

Smith’s advice is terrible for some people. For instance, if you have a martyr complex, you shouldn’t think about the marriage as being for the other person. Really, the same is true if you find yourself taken advantage on a regular basis, this advice isn’t for you. Rather, this is good advice for most people who sometimes lose sight of the grant scheme of things and are asking what they get out of a particular arrangement. That’s a recipe for thinking that you’re doing 50% when you’re actually only doing about 30% or so.

Category: Coffeehouse

Taking ideas and material from posts over here, I wrote a quick post over at Ordinary Times about the dangers of trick plays in youth athletics.

Captain Killjoy vs The Trick Play

Category: Downtown

I was wrapping up my shopping experience at a grocery store when Clancy texted me to ask that I pick up some medications at Walmart. That extended by shopping trip to a second location. It was going to be a short trip, though. It worked out just as well for me because I had forgotten to restock the babyfood.

I noticed that there was something in the bottom of my cart when I pulled it out, but didn’t think that much of it. It wasn’t until I was putting the babyfood into the basket that I saw that it was an iPhone. An honest-to-god iPhone! In a shopping cart at Walmart. Go figure. I put it in my pocket while I finished picking out the babyfood and contemplated what to do about it. I basically had three options:

1) Finders keepers, losers weepers.

2) Hand the phone over to customer service.

3) Attempt to contact the phone’s owner on my own.

The advantage to #1 was NEW PHONE! Yay! Except that it was an iPhone, which I have no use for. Except that it might be fun to play around with one, mightn’t it be? It was an old iPhone, though, I think. I think? The only way I could really tell was that it seemed to be the classic iPhone size and had mediocre resolution on the display. There wasn’t a whole lot I could learn from that. Oh yeah, and it would be wrong for me to keep it. Someone purchased that phone and needed it. Stupid morality.

The advantage to #2 was that I could simply do it and be done with it. No more iPhone to worry about. The concern was that it would not actually find its way to its owner. It might instead find its way into an employee’s hand. Now a part of me wouldn’t mind that. Walmart employees are notoriously paid and their jackpot would probably mean a lot more to them than it would mean to me. They might even like Apple products. Presumably so, if they went to the trouble of stealing it. On the other hand, as with #1, it was somebody’s phone and they probably needed it. I felt like I would probably have more luck if I tried to contact the owner myself.

I was leaning towards #3. I surfed the phone and discovered precious little activity on it. I thought about texting somebody to have them have the owner of the phone contact me. But there was only one text conversation in the phone and it involved an assessment of the quality of illegal substances from a particular supplier. I searched the contacts and saw maybe ten entries, including Mom and Dad (listed separately). So I texted Mom and Dad saying that their son or daughter had lost their phone and here is how I can be contacted to get it back.

I noticed that the battery was running low, though, which was a problem because I don’t have a charger. I also wasn’t going to go buy a charger for this little project (and beyond which, wouldn’t have known which charger to buy). I could probably find someone who had a charger and charge it and leave it on waiting to hear back or… something. It was all getting rather complicated, though. What were the odds that I would get everything together versus the odds that they might, I don’t know, figure out that they must have lost it at Walmart and go up to the customer service deck.

I got a response from “Mom” saying “Ain’t none of my kids phone.” That, combined with the dying battery, and the desire to get on with my day, landed the phone in the customer service of Walmart on my way out the door.

Category: Market

We ate at a Mexican Restaurant last night. While eating, a guy in a sombrero and a Guy Fawkes mask came out and started dancing to the Tejano music. By the time I got over the sheer amount of weird in the whole thing and got my camera phone out, he went back to the back. If I’d had Google Glasses on, that wouldn’t have happened. Which is why I hope they become affordable and commonplace.

Category: Downtown

You may have heard about the heroics of Batkid:

San Francisco is safe again all thanks to Batkid.

Five-year-old Miles, stepping in to help Bruce Wayne, freed a damsel in distress Friday morning after getting an urgent call from Commissioner Gordon.

So daring were his feats, and so perilous was the fate of the city, that CNN Headline News interrupted to bring live coverage, and the Gotham Chronicle printed a special edition.

Hundreds of thankful Bay-area residents lined the streets to watch Batkid apprehend the Riddler (aka Edward “E.” Nigma). Batkid’s bravery encouraged hundreds more to volunteer to help fight crime.

The whole thing was set up by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Even President Obama got into the act. Wil Wheaton says that it gives him faith in humanity. For me? It indicates that I have probably lost mine.

I’m sorry for the kid having cancer and I’m happy he got the day of his life. But I also look at this as a terrible allocation of resources mostly in the name of making us feel better. A lot of time, effort, and money here was spent on the emotional welfare of one child. Not even pain alleviation, but having a good time. The memory of a lifetime… to a kid that is dying. If you were to do this for a kid that isn’t dying, that kid would have a lifetime of memories that would last longer. As likely as not, he’d have kids to pass the story on to. It’s the ultimate example of self-regarding charity.

I have nothing against the Make-a-Wish Foundation or anything. Or doing things for dying kids. Maybe I have some of my humanity left. But this raises the bar really high for future MAWers. Obviously, you can’t do this for every kid that is dying. So the next dying kid is going to look at meeting Cal Ripkin and say “But I wanted to be Batkid!” Expectation-management failure.

Of course, with my luck, it’ll turn out that the kid lives to 100 and has the kids and all that to pass the story on down to. That’d be cool.

Category: Newsroom