All posts by Brian A. Thomas

I am the father of Ari and Sidd. I am the owner and administrator of this site.

C++ class, Make it easy to know when we update, Sara goes to orientation.

The diffaculty level of my programming class at school is going up a notch again. We are now moving into Windows programming in C++. Oy.
I have been trying to find either a blog or a wiki dedicated to teaching C++, but no luck yet. I figure they have to be out there somewhere. There are teaching blogs and teaching wikis for other stuff, why not C++?
Want an easy way of knowing when this site, CNN, and many others such as Google’s news page, are update? Many sites use a RSS
or Atom feed to let you know when they have updated. To subscribe to us, or other sites using these systems, you need a news aggregator. A good free aggregator is Feedreader. If you don’t mind paying $30 for a good one, FeedDemon
would be the way to go. Using an aggregator makes it so you don’t have to check those sites out each day. It goes to the web page, dowloads any updates to itself and lets you know when they have been updated and which ones. I highly recomend using Feedreader to see what it is all
about, and then if you decide you really like it, then upgrade to FeedDemon, or if Feedreader is doing the job for you, stick with it.

Sara is on her way to orientation at school.

Bush finally condemns negative outside ads, but what about from the campaingn?

Bush the other day condemned negative ads by outside groups, stopping short of condemning that ad specifically. Before the ads from the Vets came out, and recently while condemning negative outside ads, Bush praised Kerry’s service in Vietnam. Should he have condemned the
ad specifically? Perhaps, but then he should have asked Kerry to condemn the ads by Moveon, the movie Fahrenheit 9/11, and other smear campaigns by outside groups from the other side. There is no difference between the ad by the Swift Boat Vets and Fahrenheit 9/11, outside who
it attacks and the length of the attack.
Of course, Bush wants negative outside ads to be condemned by both sides, but says nothing of
negative ads by the campaigns themselves. This is a little disappointing since he seems to run more on negative ads then Kerry. Kerry ads, that I have seen, seem to be more positive. Good for him, let’s hope Bush follows suit. Both sides should stop the negative ads from the campaign, and condemn negative ads, movies, books and websites from outside sources, whose sole purpose is to smear the other candidate.
While Kerry seems to have slipped a little in the Electoral Vote, I still predict, he’ll win by a wide margin. Oh well, I’ll still go out and vote for one of my two guys, and I probably won’t decide until I am behind the curtain as to whom that will be.

The accessible Brian A. Thomas .com update

Okay, what about the accessible, validated, table free version of this site? I haven’t had the time to really work on the test page in a while. Apologies. I do want to get back to that as soon as possible. After that, the page should be equally accessible on PDAs, computers, screen readers, braille web browsers (I doubt anyone visiting this page is using a braille web browser, but should they do so, the page would finally be readable and navigable).
You may have noticed some changes on the main page here though that is a move to accessibility. On many web browsers, the links in posts like this should have a tool tip come up. The acronyms in the last couple of posts should also have a tool tip. So we are getting there, slowly.
Of course some of the stuff I am doing is being messed up by Radio… I need to change blogging software to something better, and free… but that would mean moving hosts, something I am not really ready to do yet. Perhaps when Radio expires, or the domain… we’ll see.

My scream of agony that you may have heard earlier

That agonized scream you may have heard was the sound of me, suffering at the hands of my computer. I have software I want to use, but I can’t because I don’t have Windows XP. Sadly, I can’t afford Windows XP at the moment, especially WinXP Pro like I would prefer to have. Next
WinXP Home/Pro both prefer more then 128MB RAM, at least 256MB RAM, the more the better, and I only have 128 MB RAM. I hear what you are thinking, why not upgrade the amount of RAM I have since RAM is cheap. Well, it is, unless you have RDRAM, or Rambus RAM, which will run you several times regular memory prices. Upgrading to 512MB of RDRAM, which
I would consider the absolute minimum today, would cost over $200, and 1GB of RAM, the true minimum, would run over $400, not an affordable option either way. Then the video card… which could be upgraded to a minimum card for a tad over $150, though really I would be missing out on lots of stuff even with that until over $300 or so which doesn’t work on my system as I don’t have enough power from the power supply, so I am stuck with a $100 to $150+ type of upgrades. The CPU is unfortunately unreplaceable, as Intel went with another pinout configuration on the higher-speed chips. So how much to upgrade my current system? Let’s say 1 GB RDRAM ($400+), a new video card ($150+), Windows XP Pro($190 for the upgrade), so at minimum, I am looking at $740 or so. At that point, I still wouldn’t be able to run some of the games I would like to play, and if I were to compile a really big program (unlikely anyhow, I’ll admit) it would take much longer then I would care for… The above doesn’t even account for the software upgrades I really should get…
Options? New system from Dell at the same price range… doesn’t work, as the only way to do that is to get integrated video with no option for adding a video card. Cheapest I could come up with at Dell was $1355, and that is dropping the monitor from the system price, a much better system would be $2054 from them. Now in both cases that included a $260 upgrade to get Office small business edition, and at the moment I qualify for the Student edition which I could get cheaper elsewhere… Still tons of cash.
A homebuilt system would be the preferred option, since as I am building it, I can control the exact parts going in, and make sure they are good quality. This would run about $3100 or so without a monitor upgrade.
Which is kind of odd, as the notebook I want is about $3135 without changing anything… I know, I know, $3135 seems extreme, but this isn’t just a regular laptop, but a DTR, or Desktop Replacement.
All the above is without upgrading to the development software. I won’t even go into that cost, but development software is a tad expensive.
Of course there are other things we need more then a new computer, so I am stuck… grr…. and hence the scream of agony you may have heard earlier… oops, here it comes again…

Ari Update, Ari’s CD of photos, Sara’s surgery, My school update

Ari has fairly well mastered the going from back to front roll. While we put him down on his back, we almost always find him on
his belly when we get him up. He has re-learned the front to back roll, so he goes back and forth, though he still finds it easier to go from back to front.
Sara fed him cabbage… eww…. He liked it well enough apparently. He seems to like solid foods.
Want photos of Ari? We have a CD full of them, free for the asking to family and friends. Okay, well, more like 200 MB or so of pictures, so not a full 700 MB, but still… Anyhow, let me know if you want it. Updates to the CD will be issued to broadband friends and family via Bit Torrent. I recommendAzureus for your Bit Torrent client. I’ll let you know when the update is available.
Sara had surgery on her toes the other day. All went well. I’ll leave her to go into all the graphic detail, the big… long… shots and all of that. She starts school here in a little over a week. KSU: Stark, she’s coming right at ya.
My last day of school will be December 23rd. Well, last day for the Associate of Applied Business, Computer Programming and Applications anyhow. After that I start on my Associate of Applied Business, Computer Networking and hopefully earn my MCSE or MCSA. Still left are Literature, Database Applications, Advanced Database Applications, and Graphical User Interface Programming. Technically there is an externship as well, but that can be done during the same time as classes, and most of us in the night classes are complaining that an externship isn’t reasonable for us since we all work during the day, and how many places will take us after 6 pm for externships? So we’ll see how the externship works out or not. Anyhow, figuring I finish with the Networking classes by May 26th or June 23rd, I may have my MCSE or MCSA by this time next year. I believe I currently have a 3.68 overall GPA.
I got to get off to let Sara have the computer… so until later… oh, and I’ll get back to work on the accessible version of this page again soon. More on that bit on the next update from me.

Ari update, Ari eats more solids

Ari had broccoli today. He apparently liked it well enough. Sara had made the broccoli and froze it in the ice cube trays, so one ice cube of broccoli is a serving. He has also given himself a hickey on his wrist. He puts one hand on his head, the other near his mouth and must suck on his wrist while it is there.

Website update

The new web design is undergoing testing at the moment. This is the CSS, table free layout, that will be fully W3C XHTML certified. I made some changes since I certified it, but when it was certified it was XHTML 1.0 strict, though at the moment I am just trying to certify it at XHTML 1.0 transitional. The CSS will be certified as well.
Anyhow, I have to head off to work.

School Update

I finally get to Advanced Computer Programming next week… of course Advanced is a relative term here, and is what I would call Basic C++ Programming Part 2. I learned more from my Deitel/Deitel book then I did from the class. This isn’t to fault the teacher, who did really well, but the format of the class and the book they force him to use are not well suited to learning something like that. I believe I have MS Access, Literature, and at least one other class (which I believe is Visual Basic) then I should be done and have my Associate of Applied Business, Computer Programming and Applications, I could be off by a class or two at the most. After that I plan on taking Computer Networking, which should be just 5 or 6 more classes, and give me an Associate of Applied Business, Computer Networking and assuming I pass the Microsoft Certification test, my MSCE. With those two degrees and a MSCE, I should be set.

Ari Update

Today’s Ari update is brought to you by roll overs, when you want to go from your back to your stomach, roll over. Yes, Ari figured out how to roll from his back to his belly. When I came home one day from work, I found him in his crib on his stomach. Later, when we put him down on the floor, we found him on his belly, just looking around, and when we put him in his crib he kept rolling over. The bad thing now is that he tends to get an arm stuck under him when he rolls to his stomach., so he can’t roll back and gets frustrated. As Sara noted, if we sit him up in the middle of the floor, he’ll sit there himself for some time. Everyone comments on how nice and big his eyes are, and how attentive he seems to be. He’s fairly content, and generally lets anyone hold him. He has started sticking his tongue out a lot, but hasn’t started with the raspberries yet.

More on CSS

While trying to find out more about designing a site with CSS, I found the CSS Zen Garden. What is cool, is that the HTML that makes up the page is always the same, the only thing each page changes is the CSS style sheet. You really need to follow the links to the example designs and how drastically different they are each time. What is even more amazing, is that every one of these pages could print the same if they all used the same print style sheet, where they wouldn’t need one of those “Click Here for Print Version” links, but just click your Print button and it would print only the context of the page, not the graphics or the menus, etc.
Anyhow, I am officially sold on CSS based design. Simplify the HTML/XHTML and move more to the CSS page(s).

The future of this site, misc stuff… good night…

Okay, so Trackbacks have been added to the blog here. That link was the official explanation, an easier explanation is here or here (from the people who invented Trackback).
I still have yet to start work on removing the tables from the site and going with CSS positioning.
I am also thinking about changing web hosts so I get have MySQL access at the site, then I would probably move rom RadioUserland as our blogging software, to WordPress, which would save some money, and end up looking better and more professional to boot.
By the way, the PHPGedView version of my family tree will be back up soon. I hit some big bugs while upgrading to the new version… Yet another reason to have a new web host for MySQL… PHPGedView and MySQL are both Open Source software projects, which means you can see all the source code that it took to write the program, then enhance it for your own needs if you need to. I am not sure about WordPress at the moment, I think it is Open Source, but their page is down so I can’t double check. Open Source seems to be the wave of the future, at least to a degree.
Okay, I have been up for way too long. I need to sleep, so goodnight/day…

Sara wins, Ari rolls, and I program

Sara won, something, we are not sure what, on the Rollye James show, a national radio show. She had to answer what TV show theme song made it onto the Billboard Hot 40 chart at number one. There were four answers, and three were already down, she and another person called in at the same time with the answer, The Heights.
Ari is rolling over more, still not to the point where it seems to be on purpose yet. Sara’s tried a couple of times to give him rice cereal, but he hasn’t got that down yet, too much tongue. At his visit last week he weighed in at 15lbs 6oz and 25 inches long. It looks like his eye infection is over, and his tear duct may be open as well.
My first PHP program is here. I hope to learn PHP along with my C++ efforts. In regards to C++, I went back a couple of chapters to re-read a few things as it has been a while since I worked on it.