jrearick's blog

Finally an Offer

I just got a call offering a job with Iowa State. I have until Wednesday to accept the offer while I wait for other possible offers to come. Woot!

Still Nothing Yet

Tom still has me at the College of Agriculture. I'm sure they wish I could just stay around forever, but I need to advance and, more importantly, get some benefits. I threw together a nice secure file exchange web site as an alternative to people sending sensitive student documents via regular e-mail. If you have an ISU NetID you can use it. Let me know if you want to, and I will send you the URL.

I interviewed for a job doing PHP work in Durham which I am waiting for a reply on sometime this week. That positions sounds a lot like what I have been doing for Tom, but full-time and not being distracted by other help-desk, sysadmin type duties. I would also have students working for me, which would give me valuable experience doing some sort of managerial roles.

I also interviewed for a position at the College of Veterinary Medicine. I would be starting a project from the ground up, working directly with users on designing and implementing an online management system for the department. The place is primarily a Windows shop, so I would expect to learn ASP and .NET programming. That job also sounds like a lot of fun, plus I get the idea that I would be able to get more money out of that deal. I hope to hear something about this job sometime next week.

As for the rest of life; this weekend was busy and fun. My friend Chris came up from Kansas City for the weekend. Satay and Burrito for lunch and dinner on Friday. Saturday we had Gaila's mom and sister over for a turkey dinner, then found out that Gaila's sister was going to go see an acquaintance of mine who was currently with Chris, so I invited them all over to hang out. Sunday, Gaila and I headed over the Mel's to watch most of the Daytona 500 until Gaila had to go to work.

This weekend was fun, even with a sore throat and everything. Now it's time to clean up the place and do some laundry.

Fun Things I Found this Morning

I found an rather entertaining article posted last night on CARS: "PC Kills Mac". I suggest you check out the "Security" version of the Get A Mac ads before you read. While on CARS I noticed a pretty interesting ad for Delicious Library:

What is Ciallis? Delicious Monster doesn't know either.  Be we do make good software!

As for the rest of life... I interviewed for a position in Durham doing PHP work on Tuesday. Tom is keeping me through the 15th now. I haven't heard back from Principal about the DBA position I interviewed for almost four weeks ago. HR said I should know by the end of the week. Yesterday, I got a call from Principal from a different recruiter about possibly going for an IT Systems Associate position doing any number of UNIXy things.

My parents have run off to southern Texas for a few weeks, so I have to watch their house in the cold Iowa weather while they enjoy the temperatures in the 80s.

Why my web site is slow...

[pocky]$ uptime
 13:17:09 up 9 days, 3 min,  9 users,  load average: 19.55, 24.95, 15.54


Hooray for Dreamhost

Yo-Yos in Space

So, I was playing with my yo-yo, and for some reason I got curious about how a yo-yo would operate in space or in zero gravity. After a little Goggle-ing around I found a document from the University of Texas which explains how a yo-yo operates in space:

In space a yo-yo performs well at any speed. It will gracefully move down the string without tangling and bounce backward along the string when it reaches the loop at the end. The yo-yo will not sleep in space because there is no force to keep the yo-yo from moving back up the string. If the astronaut releases the yo-yo when it is coming back along the string, the yo-yo will continue to wind up its string as it moves past the astronaut. If the string is released on the way out, the yo-yo will wind up its string while moving forward. Yo-yo tricks involving sleeping the yo-yo (like "walking-the-dog" and "rocking the baby") cannot be performed in space. "Around the world" requires a sleeping yo-yo and too much room for an effective demonstration in the cabin. Dynamic yo-yo tricks work beautifully in space. Astronaut Dave Griggs can send the yo-yo out, bring it back, and send it upward with little effort. On earth, this trick is called "shooting the moon".

Interesting. The document also covers the way some other toys operate in space such as tops, slinkies, paddleball, etc.

Cleaning Variables From User Input Forms in PHP

Cleaning user input data for MySQL queries is pretty important. In PHP, most people will do mysql_real_escape_string($_POST['myVar']) to clean the data. This is okay if you have few user variables coming in. However, what if you have an application that has hundreds of fields that may change? You will have to go in and modify a long set of mysql_real_escape_string()s in order to make sure things are clean. There is a neat little function called array_map() that can make life so much easier. So below is a easy function to have around to clean your user variables. Just pass it your $_POST or $_GET arrays.

function clean_array($post)
  // magic quotes can cause problems 
        $_POST = array_map("stripslashes", $post);

   return array_map("mysql_real_escape_string", $post);

Now when you want to work with user data just do the following:

$post_arr = clean_array($_POST);
$get_arr = clean_array($_GET);

I can't believe it took me so long to figure this out. Every once in a while, I would just get frustrated with cleaning user input and would Google for a solution. Apparently, I just didn't know what search terms to use.

2 Weeks Notice

I only have two weeks until I'm kicked out of my job at the university. I have been working hard on polishing the scholarship system, and getting the web server ready for a move. I am slowly cleaning out my office space, starting to take stuff home and purging files I or the office doesn't need. Tom has only been coming in for the afternoons since they discovered his wife has diabetes.

I had an interview at Principal on Friday. It seems to have gone well, but only took perhaps 30 minutes. The person who interviewed me says that the length is neither a good thing or bad thing. I hope a decision is made soon as I have other applications out for ISU, Sauer-Danfoss and other places.

Gaila finally got her truck. Saturday we went around looking at trucks, test driving them. She settled on a '93 S-10 from George White. Immediately after the purchase, we took it to Lowe's to get sandbags in the back for the approaching snow storm. Now that Gaila has insurance and things straightened out, we don't have to worry about coordinating trips and picking each other up.

Not having to worry about classwork is awesome, now that classes have started for everyone else. It feels like I'm still on vacation, even while working 40 hours. The last couple of evenings I finally got around to organizing my filing cabinet. Something I have been meaning to do for over two years. I got my piece of paper, so I must now be consolidating my loans again, this time with a 3rd party that offers interest rate benefits.

Macworld '07 Review

So, the entire keynote was devoted to the Apple TV and the new iPhone. There was no mention of Leopard, nothing on iWork or iLife, noting on displays, and nothing new on iPods. Steve spend most of the two hours on the iPhone.

I just got my Mac mini set up as a TV media device. It does a lot more than the Apple TV, so I don't think I'll be buying the Apple TV. As for the iPhone, the prices quoted ($499/$599) are for new two-year contracts with Cingular. Currently my contract expires in February 2008. Depending on mid-contract pricing, I will probably pick one of these up when they ship in June.

As for a new computer, I guess I'm waiting for the next revision of the Mac Pro or until March, whichever comes first. At least my bank account won't be taking a big hit before I find a good job.

Predictions Turnout

If I determined something to happen with a greater than 50% chance, I was expecting it at Macworld (if it was announced, I was right). If I determined less than 50% I was not expecting it (if it was announced, I was wrong).

yes25% Chance 8-core
no60% Chance of a minor revision to the Mac Pro line

no60% Chance of revision
no75% Chance of price decrease

yes5% Chance shipping soon
yes20% Chance it is announced and shipping 3rd or 4th quarter 2007
no70% Chance it is not announced at all
? 90% Chance Steve will make a joke about it. (Haven't watched the keynote)

iLife / iWork '07:
no90% Chance seeing updates to iLife/iWork

yes30% Chance of any sort of new iPods

yes 85% Chance of mentioning and some sort of feature updates (Hard Drive, Intel Chip)
yes60% Chance of announced ship date

yes20% Chance of Shipping
no80% Chance of disclosure of "Top Secret" features

7 out of 14 (Exactly half right)


I just found this awesome program called Autostitch (Windows only :() that will automatically stitch together pictures to create panoramics. I kept the source images of the pano I took of the Golden Gate bridge in 2005, so I decided to let Autostitch have at it, below are the results. Click for huge (about 1 MB).

By Hand
Golden Gate Bridge Pano by Hand

By Autostitch
Golden Gate Bridge Pano by Autostitch

Macworld '07 Predictions

So, Colin and I did this before for WWDC, and he has posted his predictions for Macworld. I figure I should post my own.

8 Core Mac Pro

When I first heard the rumor, I kind of fell in a drool fit. However, Colin makes a very good point about not being able to max out the system. For 99% of the work Mac Pros will be doing, it is overkill. The best way I can see an 8 Core computer is in the server environment, in which case, it would be introduced into the xServes. The only thing I can think of doing with an 8 core Mac Pro is to run several operating systems at once in Parallels while doing some HD video editing and encoding while playing the newest graphics intensive video game.

25% Chance 8-core
60% Chance of a minor revision to the Mac Pro line (at which I will immediately buy one with my Developer Discount)

Cinema Displays

I can see them embedding an iSight into new displays. I don't really know what else they could do to improve the displays except lower the prices.

60% Chance of revision
75% Chance of price decrease


Hmmm, this is a hard one to predict. There is so much speculation. My guess would be that they will not be shipping the iPhone soon. They may announce it, kind of like what they did with the "iTV". but they will not ship it. If they do annoounce it, I would think it would be out for the holiday shopping season 2007. My thinking is that Apple has not gotten too much into negotiating with carriers. If the phone was to be released to the market soon, I doubt the cell phone companies would have been able to keep the secret under wraps very well.

5% Chance shipping soon
20% Chance it is announced and shipping 3rd or 4th quarter 2007
70% Chance it is not announced at all
90% Chance Steve will make a joke about it.

iLife / iWork 07

Very likely. iLife updates are pretty much common place at Macworld. Sheets in iWork suite plus version bumping for the rest of the apps.

90% Chance seeing updates to iLife/iWork


I don't believe there will be any iPod updates. They seem to be done on their own schedule and may overshadow media coverage of other announcements at Macworld.

30% Chance of any sort of new iPods


Steve will announce the brand name for the iTV. Updates on features and perhaps a ship date. I expect DVR capabilities and a Blue-Ray Drive (If this is true, I might considering buying one at the price point announced).

85% Chance of mentioning and some sort of feature updates
60% Chance of announced ship date


Announcement of "Top Secret" features mentioned at WWDC. I have no clue what the features will be and nobody is really speculating about them. Ship date will be announced, hopefully before my Developer membership expires.

20% Chance of Shipping
80% Chance of disclosure of "Top Secret" features

So, there are my predictions. We'll see what happens on Tuesday. I don't have class, so I can be watching the sites during the keynote - yay!

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