Saturday, December 30, 2006

Favorites of 2006

Here are some of my favorite things from 2006.

On-line laughs:
  1. The most-viewed YouTube video of 2006: The Evolution of Dance by Judson Laipply
  2. Possibly the worst recording of O Holy Night, ever
  3. David Brent's Microsoft training video
  4. The Iraq Report with subtitles
  5. Two sons try to take a Mother’s Day photo (these guys must know my brother and me)

TV commercials:
  1. Liberty Mutual "pay-it-forward" commercial
  2. LA County Fair - "Duh, Ashley, all wool comes from a cow..."
  3. “That should kill him…” Ameriquest doctor commercial
  4. Peyton Manning supporting his team

Movies I saw:
  1. The Prestige - It had me on the edge of my seat the entire time
  2. X-Men: The Last Stand - I hope this won’t be the last of the series
  3. Facing the Giants - Created by a church with no professional actors, it's a very moving and inspirational film
  4. Invincible - Almost makes me want to be a Phily fan
  5. Casino Royale - A little on the violent side, but probably the best Bond yet
  6. Flags of Our Fathers - War is tragic

Books I read:
  1. The Language of God by Francis Collins - Collins does a great job of distilling the myth that evolution = atheism
  2. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner - Some interesting things to think about
  3. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas - Rather than make us "happy", marriage is designed by God to make us more holy
  4. Finding God at Harvard by Kelly Monroe - A series of encouraging stories from various Harvard alums about their path to faith

Websites I love to visit:
  1. Wikipedia.org – Sometimes you have to sort through a lot of “truthiness”, but it’s an extremely useful tool for answering the question “What is X?”
  2. YouTube.com – It feeds my addiction for funny commercials
  3. Google Scholar – OK, I don’t love to visit this site, but it's probably the #1 reason why getting my Ph.D. will take less than 4 years. It’s much larger and faster than Citeseer and far easier to use than Windows Live Academic

Friday, December 29, 2006

Goodbye to 2006

We just returned home from visiting my parents in St. Louis. Sara was able to fly up too, but John had to stay in Dallas and work the 26th. We had a really good visit... plenty of R&R and quality time with the fam. It was fun having us all together and watching the Broncos win and the Cowboys… well… we’ll try to forget about that game. I worked just a little- fixed and started several scripts which needed to run over the break, but a power-outage on the 26th undid all my work.

Although the Bean is not yet born, he got a majority of the gifts, including a really cute Broncos outfit with matching booties and bib. Sara also got him an “I love Daddy” jumper and a hand-made outfit from Bolivia. Can’t wait for him to be here!

In our family fantasy football league, I whooped up on my dad and sister to become the first family league champion. smile In the Bayside League, I was 6 out of 14. Not as good as my second place finish last year, but it was fun none the less. This is probably the last time I’ll play in the Bayside League since we won’t be living here next fall. Hope someone will pick it up after I leave.

On a sadder note, I found out that Marilyn Fowler passed away on Christmas Eve. I used to go to church with Al and Marilyn in Searcy. She had been battling leukemia and had completed her third round of chemotherapy and was so close to beating it. I’m glad she’s out of pain now, but it’s got to be hard on Al and the family.

Only 3 days left of 2006. This has been a really good year. A few highlights:
  • Apr 7: Passed my Ph.D. candidacy exam
  • May: Finished taking the last course of grad school
  • July 19: Becky and I celebrated our third anniversary
  • July 28: Found out Becky was pregnant!
  • Becky won 2 awards at work (Aug and May)
  • Oct 8-14: Our first cruise- to the Bahamas
  • Nov 17: Found out we’re having a boy!
  • Nov-Dec: Taught a class on Christian Apologetics (toughest class I’ve ever taught)
  • Today: Posted my 100th blog post


A few goals for 2007:
  • Name our newborn son
  • Change my first diaper
  • Move back to Arkansas
  • Begin teaching at Harding University
  • Graduate with my Ph.D.

Some books I want to read in 2007:

May God richly bless us all in 2007.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

End of the semester at ODU

I’m in my office at ODU overlooking a very barren campus. Everything is closed down, and all the faculty, staff, and students have started their vacations (mine starts tomorrow when the woman, the bean, and I fly out to see my parents in St. Louis ).

A few days ago I took some photos of the many changes going on around campus:




Here's my building (ECS). Nothing has changed here, but I thought I'd get a picture of it anyway. My office window is 3 floors up, left of the lobby windows.
This is what the new dorms look like from outside my office window.
These are the new dorms that are going up across from the ECS building. They are on top of what was the parking lot to the gym. Notice the stylish port-a-potties.This is a close-up of one of the finished dorm. The other will be finished in a few months.
The old gym has been gutted... it looks like a hurricane swept out the old basketball courts.These are two new structures next to the gym. I think they're going to be the new indoor tennis courts, but I could be wrong.



ODU is also building a new bookstore and a research center near the village.

Some interesting, news-worthy items about the 76 year old university:
  • According to the New York Times, ODU is the most racially diverse four-year institution in the country.
  • ODU is getting a football team in 2009- a little late for me, but just in time for the class of '09.
  • Sometimes when the university upgrades their software, you get thousands of dollars loaned to you with 0% interest.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tom cat

Tom was put down yesterday after failing to respond positively to medication for a blood clot. He was a great old cat. We reluctantly adopted Tom when he was only a kitten; he followed me home one night after I’d been out TP’ing the neighborhood. He moved with my parents and sister from Denver to Kansas City, Bella Vista to St. Louis. We will miss you, buddy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rhonda Frasier - See you on the other side

I just learned today that a good friend of mine from my post-college years in Denver has passed away. The following is from the Harding University alumni newsletter:
Rhonda Frazier (’94)

A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Church of Christ in Prineville, Oregon, for Rhonda Gaylene Frazier of Madras, formerly of Lane County, who died Dec. 8 of Alzheimer's disease. She was 34.

She was born Aug. 23, 1972, in Heidelberg, Germany, to Doug and Dawn Kimball Frazier. She worked in fashion merchandising. She was a member of Chi Omega Phi and the women’s track team at Harding University.

Survivors include her parents; a son, Clay; a grandmother, Azalea Kimball Hatfield; a sister, Janelle Strong of Prineville; and a brother, Justin of Eugene.

Arrangements by Autumn Funerals in Redmond. Remembrances to Clay Frazier Trust Fund at Mid-Oregon Credit Union.

Rhonda and I were buddies when I graduated from Harding in '96 and moved back to Denver. She had also made the move to Denver after graduating from Harding, and she lived in the same apartment complex as Mark Story, another good friend of mine. I was probably at either her place or Mark's at least once a week.

I lost touch with Rhonda after I moved back to Searcy and she moved to Oregon. One Christmas she sent me a Christmas card with a photo of her and her son, but I haven’t talked to her in years. She was a Christian and a very thoughtful friend, and I pray that the Lord takes her home and provides comfort to her family.

Here’s a photo of Rhonda and I playing in a mud volleyball tournament in 1996.



This photo was taken at a Christmas party in 1996. Rhonda is on the far left.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Link rot in CACM

I was really surprised this afternoon to see an article in the Communications of the ACM that cited a cached URL from the MSN search engine in place of a missing web page:
The link to the U.S. Secret Service “Operation 4-1-9” report at www.secretservice.gov/alert419.htm appeared to be broken when this column was written, but cached copies remain available (for example, cc.msnscache.com/cache.aspx?q=3910458378891〈=en-US).
Communications of the ACM, Volume 49, Number 12 (2006), Page 18.
The editors of CACM may not be aware of this, but search engines do not keep cached copies of pages long. In fact, they will often purge their caches of any web page that returns a 404 when crawling. (You can read my paper on an experiment which illustrates this.) Citing a cached page from a search engine should never be done in academic writing. Instead of citing just one broken URL, CACM has now cited two.

If you are interested in learning more about link rot and how to combat it, check out this Wikipedia article that I contribute to.

Speaking of link rot, Baden Hughes of the University of Melbourne has recently published a study entitled Link? Rot. URI Citation Durability in 10 Years of AusWeb Proceedings. (Not sure why he used a question mark in his title.) He used many of the methodologies that I used when examining link rot in D-Lib Magazine last year. Turns out AusWeb URLs have a much lower half-life (6 years) than D-Lib article URLs (10 years). This is probably because authors of D-Lib articles are more aware of link rot than authors in other professions.

I’m curious if any other on-line magazine or journal can beat D-Lib’s 10 year half-life. I have a suspicion JMIR articles could since many of them use WebCite.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Agassi and Blake in Norfolk

Last night I finally got to see Andre Agassi in person at Anthem LIVE! at the Constant Center. Anthem LIVE! was hosted by James Blake to raise money for cancer research (James’ father died of cancer several years ago). Becky surprised me with a ticket to the event a few weeks ago. She couldn’t go with me though since this weekend she was in her friend Amy’s wedding in Memphis.


This is only the second time I’ve seen a live professional tennis match- the first was years ago in Denver when I saw an exhibition with Jimmy Connors and David Wheaton. And then there was the time I ran into Steffi Graf (now Andre’s wife) years ago in an elevator in San Antonio (nice legs ), but she wasn't exactly swining a racquet. So I was really excited about the event.

Anthem LIVE! opened with Boyd Tinsley (of the Dave Matthews Band) and the Blake brothers playing doubles against the Bryan brothers. Bob and Mike Bryan are currently the number 1 ranked doubles team in the world. After 3 games, James and his brother Thomas took on the Bryan brothers in a lively 8 game set with the Bryan brothers ending up on top.

After the doubles match, I ran down to the entrance way where Agassi was going to enter and took some snaps with my phone (Becky took our digital camera with her to Memphis). The crowd went nuts when Agassi came out of the tunnel. I was about 10 feet away despite the usher who kept yelling at me to return to my seat. Common- I’m not going to stab the guy. smile

Andre and James played an entertaining two set match, ending in a win for James after a third set tie-breaker. There were some great shots by both players, and the crowd loved it. Most people stayed to the very end (around 10:30 pm).

An interesting fact I learned last night: Agassi and Graf are the only two tennis players to have won every Grand Slam tournament and a gold metal in tennis. Can you image the genes their kids must have?!

I may not have gotten to see Agassi play in the US Open or Wimbledon, but this was pretty awesome. Now if I can just get Becky to let me name our son Agassi...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Forum posts lost from Beryl Project

This week I received an email from Paul Dorman who was wanting to use Warrick to recover http://forums.beryl-project.org. Beryl is a combined window manager and compositing manager that runs on top of Xgl or AIGLX. According to Paul, the site was lost when a hard drive crashed and no backups were available. There is some discussion of recovering the website here.

Apparently one of the forum members named TreviƱo used Warrick to recover quite a few of the pages and has them hosted here. One of the forum members praised Google for "their excellent off site backup that is watchin us all." Kinda gives you a warm cozy feeling.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hasta la Vista

Microsoft finally released Windows Vista yesterday. Robert Vamosi has written about the Five reasons to love (and hate) Windows Vista, and Joel Spolsky has written an interesting bit about the complexity of the Vista's off button.

I’m looking forward to giving Vista a try, but not anytime soon… my current laptop runs like a dog with XP, much less with Vista. Better to purchase a new computer in 2007 with the OS already installed.