Open Source Software and the University Role

When you ask most people, the common perception of the role of a university is to teach students, perform research, and help the community. The latter is certainly one that I find many people (especially in university roles) don’t throw up as an answer, despite it being an important role of a university. It’s clear that this mentality runs rampant amongst individuals, especially software developers, at universities because of the lack of open source (or freely licensed) software that is provided by universities across the nation. Certainly, some have contributed more than their fair share (Virginia Tech, University of Washington, just to name a couple). However, many others, especially those who pride themselves on being one of the world’s most premiere research institutions, fail to meet up to the same standards as others. It’s about time that developers start banding together and becoming more creative and collaborative across the campus so that we can keep things moving forward. Working at Texas A&M University has been both a rewarding and a frustrating experience. I get to see the good side of developers keenly interested in working together with other developers from clear across campus to get a project completed and helping both sides share data each critically needs. But I also get to see politics at its finest stopping great knowledge-sharing from happening. Furthermore, I also see managers and VPs looking at their pocket books and thinking they can score some extra money for their budget if they charge for access or collaboration. This is hardly the way or means that people in the same enterprise should be treating one another.

Gentoo Font Glory

I found an article today that any Gentoo (and likely any Linux user) should look at if they want fonts to look better than either Windows or Mac OS X. Check it out.

fail2ban add server hostname to e-mails

I had been scouring the web this morning looking for a way to get the hostname of the server in my e-mails without hard-coding it into my action.d scripts (e.g. mail.conf, mail-whois.conf, etc.). The fail2ban wiki was not much help in this regard. In fact, somebody had posted this exact request on the community page, but it seems as though this request has not gone through. But, alas, I found a solution that’s not ideal, but isn’t the horrible must hard-code my hostname into every action.d script. Now, again, I mentioned this wasn’t ideal. I still had to touch all of my mail-related action.d scripts. Notice the <host> entry.

PHP, Meet Master Pages

This was an article I began writing several months ago. I didn’t want to abandon it, so I’m finishing it up now. It’s merely an informational and doesn’t contain a lot of depth. It’s meant for the introductory users.

How much is too much documentation?

I really don’t think this has ever really been an age-old discussion. Business in the past had never really done much in the line of documentation (and for some businesses these days, it’s starting to show). Employees in the past knew specifically how to perform their tasks because they had become so engrained in the every day routine that it wasn’t necessary to document. I guess they also either had an underling that shadowed their every step so that they could step in, or business just didn’t get done then until the person responsible for that process got back into work.

Lawn and Yard Revival

Today marks what I believe to be the official first day of spring for Bryan/College Station. Despite the Spring Equinox occurring a little over a week ago, the temperatures have only recently begun to stablize above freezing, which is crucial for lawn and yard work. Anyone who’s been to my house in recent months has seen the shape it’s been in. It’s hard, uneven, and as of late has been overrun with weeds (especially in the back yard). This year I’m going to do everything I can to get it into better shape, but not without the help of some local professionals. I’m going to post pics and tricks that I learn that show either amazing improvements (or horribly backfire) so that others who own their own lawns can attempt the same to get it as green and lush as possible.

Is it strange...

…that I can somehow feel like a member of the Battlestar Galactica family, even as a viewer? I just watched The Last Frakkin’ Special and can’t help but reflect how I somehow relate and/or wanted to relate with the actors and actresses in the series. It was a sad day in our house on March 20, 2009 - the end of the best series I’ve ever watched on television. The final episode of the series was really what locked it in as my favorite series of all time. As I reflect on how excited I had always been every new episode that came out, there’s no doubt in my mind. The only difference about watching BSG or watching some other television series is BSG is more like watching the longest movie of all time. The quality of the actors and actresses, the special effects and artistry, the music and everything else has been at the caliber of of a full-scale movie production.

Government Bailouts and Business Failures

I heard a story one morning while driving into work regarding one economist’s point-of-view on why the government is going about in the wrong direction in terms of handling business failures (in particular, AIG’s failing). I thought that the solution was very well put that it was worth mentioning (despite the fact that this economist was an advisor to both President Bush and later McCain). Let AIG fail. Other big businesses close to failing should fail. This is the gist of the solution. The specifics, however, are what was worth mentioning. He was proposing that what the government should do is in a controlled manner sell off the assets from the failing company to other smaller businesses. What this would do is:

  • Help pay off the failing company's debts
  • Help spread the liabilities of the failing company across smaller companies in a more manageable fashion
  • Help strengthen and add additional assets to smaller businesses
  • Puts many more smaller businesses in a better position for growth, resulting in the potential of a greater number of jobs than the big failed company

Adwords, Power Tools, and Rain

Quick update on my life. Before I give a general update on my hectic life, I want to say that I’m not really satisfied with adwords lately. I was kind of expecting to make probably at least $10 USD a week given the number of visitors to my site. However, I have yet to make $10 USD for the entire time I’ve been running adwords - this is even with people clicking on links! Turns out I guess the return on clicks is not as high as I had hoped it would be - that or not many people are clicking links.

Monsters vs. Aliens - Definite Hit

I was privileged enough to get a couple of free passes into a pre-screening of Dreamworks Monsters vs. Aliens. This was the first time I’ve ever seen a movie before it was released to the public, so needless to say I felt privileged. (To the one who hooked me up with the passes, thanks again!) In any case, Dreamworks managed to put themselves back on the radar of having really good potential in the animation market, and definitely didn’t let me down this time. Dreamworks does have an impressive number of digital animation films lined up, but for the longest time it seemed as though they were releasing films that were on the coattails of Pixar, and never really released films that topped theirs. I’ll give Dreamworks credit for Shrek, however, as it was one of the more humorous digital animations that I enjoy seeing again and again. One word of advise though - stop making newer episodes. That plate of food has already gone stale.