Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Have a drink

But don't drink too much

Is that better?

Fix for 30GB Zune Crash, hard reset is the answer

If you are one of the people who have the first generation 30GB Zune and it crashed today, here is a workaround until Microsoft fixes it.

"Your zune will need a "hard reset."
To do this, use a small screwdriver to pop off the plastic shielding where the zune cable plugs into and remove the two screws on either side of the plug. Next pop the cover off and locate the battery plug at the top left corner of the zune, using your screw driver, pop the cable connection half way off, and do this to the other plug on the right side. Wait 3 seconds, then push down the right connector and then the left battery connecter. Your zune should start up immediately. Press the backing of the zune down (make sure headphone jack is aligned) and put the screws and cover back in place.
It's an easy process but if you're unsure don't attempt it if you think you'll screw it or something. :)"
Not pretty, but it might help those of you who have this problem.

Now remember do not try to sync the Zune after this or it will crash again, this seems to be a Y2K9 bug, the Zune thinks it is already January 1st but it is only December 31st (those damned leap years). Hopefully tomorrow it will just work again :-)

I have the 8GB Smaller Zune and it never failed

Here is the code that caused all this trouble

year = ORIGINYEAR; /* = 1980 */

while (days > 365)
if (IsLeapYear(year))
if (days > 366)
days -= 366;
year += 1;
days -= 365;
year += 1;

So in 4 years this will hapen again if Microsoft doesn't fix this but then again how many people will still have a first generation 30 GB Zune then?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2009 resolutions or better yet my to do list for 2009

I was working on my resolutions post yesterday and was going to post it here 

I noticed last night on my twitter feed that Jason Massie tagged me
My list is more a to-do list for the year than new year's resolutions, since I am as perfect as Chrissie1 having a list resolutions would mean I wasn’t perfect, this clearly isn’t so.

Here is what I intend to do in 2009

Reading more books (at least 2 books a month)
When I commuted to New York City from Princeton I read about 60 books a year. This was easily accomplished because my commute was about an hour each way. Now that I have a 6 minute commute this becomes a little harder. I have three kids under the age of five; two of them just entered their terrible two stage. While they are awake you cannot read because you want to spend some time with them, then there is the wife who doesn’t want to be ignored either. Luckily I don’t watch that much TV a week, maybe 3 hours max. All this leaves me with about 4 or 5 hours to read per week at home. I could read at work during lunch for 30 minutes a day and surf the other 30 minutes. I don’t know yet how this will work out but somehow I hope I can manage it.

Answering at least 10 questions a day on various sites
This should be no problem; I should be able to do this at lunch, before I start working and just before I leave to go home. I still think participating in newsgroups is one of the best ways to learn and keep up to date on a technology

Learning Powershell
I have played around for a little with PowerShell lately and must say that I really like it, since it now also comes with SQL Server 2008 there is no reason not to learn it. I can already see where I can use it for a couple of different things

Mastering C#
I admit I am not nearly as good in C# as in SQL; this is of course because 90% of the time I am using SQL Server and not C#. I would like to change that by diving deeper into the language itself, I purchased 3 C# books last month and will read them and do all the examples. Just in case you wonder what those 3 books are, they are listed below
C# in Depth
More Effective C#: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your C#
The C# Programming Language (3rd Edition)

Finishing the SQL admin hacks
This is another thing I just can’t seem to finish, I wrote the SQL Server Programming Hacks in the first half of this year; I started the SQL Server Admin Hacks the second half of this year but I am just pushing it off. just like Peter in Office Space I am thinking "Where is the motivation Bob?"

Eating better foods and not skipping meals
Sometimes during weekends I skip breakfast because I get too involved with the kids and just forget to eat. Of course later on I am famished and eat way more than I should and ruin my lunch. I also like to snack on empty calorie foods because I am too lazy to cut up an apple or make something to eat instead. This has to stop; I am not 20 anymore and have to improve by getting rid of some bad habits.

Starting to work out again
I have not worked out since the twins were born; so that means almost two and a half years. This is pathetic but there was just no way to do it, if you only sleep 5 hours a night and this sleep interrupted then you don’t want to work out period.

Having more patience with kids + wife
I am a pretty impatient person, I don’t like to wait and I hate when people are late. My wife is the master of being late. This year I will not get upset at that and just have more patience, some people are just not on time…ever

Drinking less soda
Soda is another of these empty calorie drinks that have no purpose except for the caffeine to keep you awake. I don’t drink coffee so my only option left is tea. There are only a handful of teas that I drink, I like Lady Grey tea and Green tea, I drink Lady Grey hot and Green tea cold.

There, that is all, nothing impressive but then again I don’t smoke/drink am not overweight so that eliminated 80% of what other people put on their list.

Great white shark circles kayakers and fishermen in Sydney

Great white shark circles kayakers and fishermen in Sydney
keep those feet in people :-)

Boobs on Things That Don't Normally Have Boobs

Who comes up with crazy stuff like this?

Here is an example with the Smurfs

See all 33 of them here:

Monday, December 29, 2008

SEC Modernizes Oil and Gas Company Reporting Requirements to Provide Investors With More Meaningful and Comprehensive Disclosure

I guess the SEC is feeling the heat on this one :-)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has unanimously approved revisions to modernize its oil and gas company reporting requirements to help investors evaluate the value of their investments in these companies.

"In the more than a quarter century since the SEC last reviewed its rules in this area, there have been significant changes in technology that have increasingly limited the usefulness of current disclosures to the market and investors,” said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. “These updates to the SEC rules will help ensure more meaningful and comprehensive disclosure of information that, even though it does not appear on a company’s balance sheet, is of significance to investors in making informed investment decisions."

Get all the details here:

The Madoff Tax Advantage, Some Good News For People Scammed Out Of Money

The Freakonomics blog has a nice article explaining that people who invested with Madoff can deduct their loses as theft, this has a more favorable tax treatment

Taxpayers who invested in Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC directly, or through a fund of funds, have a loss that is most probably categorized as a theft loss for tax purposes. This loss has a more favorable tax treatment than theft losses of personal non-business property. Theft loss is determined and applied to get you back taxes for the current year of loss and the three years prior. These losses remain available beyond that four year period, and they can be carried forward for 20 years…

Read the whole article here:

I am sure it won't make up for the loss completely but something is better than nothing when you are a victim of a Ponzi scheme

How come liberals are so conservative with fuel and conservatives are so liberal with fuel?

All the people I know that drive a hybrid car are liberals or lean towards the left, all the people I know that drive trucks and Hummers are conservatives. Go to Whole Foods , watch the granola types as they park their Prius, you can easily tell that they are Liberals because of all their stickers on their cars. Now go in front of a gun shop, the stickers on the cars there will be more right wing oriented; the cars themselves will also have a much higher MPG. Maybe someone should come up with some new bumper stickers:

Liberals: fuel conservatives, Conservatives: fuel liberals

Now I called people driving a Prius and shopping at Whole Foods granolas. For some of you who do not know what I mean by that here is how Urban Dictionary defines granolas:

An adjective used to describe people who are environmentally aware (flower child, tree-hugger), open-minded, left-winged, socially aware and active, queer or queer-positive, anti-oppressive/discriminatory (racial, sexual, gender, class, age, etc.) with an organic and natural emphasis on living, who will usually refrain from consuming or using anything containing animals and animal by-products (for health and/or environmental reasons), as well as limit consumption of what he or she does consume, as granola people are usually concerned about wasting resources. Usually buy only fair-trade goods and refrain from buying from large corporations, as most exploit the environment as well as their workers, which goes against granola core values.

BTW this wasn't meant to offend anyone, I was just in a funny mood today. Must have been that Whole Foods 365 brand cola junk

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Whole Foods 365 Brand Cola Sucks

So my wife the health nut decided to bring this junk home when I asked for some cola for my bambus.

Whole Foods Cola Sucks

This stuff is just horrible, for one it doesn't taste as good as Coca Cola and second it doesn't NOT have ricking caffeine. Might as well drink a Shirley Temple in that case. So I told my wife never to buy this crap again.

Passive house and others of this design get all the heat and hot water they need from the amount of energy that would be needed to run a hair dryer

I have just finished Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman, it was a very interesting book. Today the NY Times has an article titled No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in 'Passive Houses'

From the outside, there is nothing unusual about the stylish new gray and orange row houses in the Kranichstein District, with wreaths on the doors and Christmas lights twinkling through a freezing drizzle. But these houses are part of a revolution in building design: There are no drafts, no cold tile floors, no snuggling under blankets until the furnace kicks in. There is, in fact, no furnace.

In Berthold Kaufmann’s home, there is, to be fair, one radiator for emergency backup in the living room — but it is not in use. Even on the coldest nights in central Germany, Mr. Kaufmann’s new “passive house” and others of this design get all the heat and hot water they need from the amount of energy that would be needed to run a hair dryer.

I wonder how that would work in Princeton where I live, we sometimes get 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 95% humidity in the middle of the summer. Could that house cool itself in that kind of heat? I doubt it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cat steals fish from person fishing

Got this in the inbox today. I always liked cats more than dogs, I can see people having certain dogs because they are useful. What is the point of a chihuahua? Get a cat instead, you want a cat that behaves a little like a dog then get a siamese cat.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Christmas Story ...

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure.

Then Mrs Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more. When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.

Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drank all the cider and hidden the liquor. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said very cheerfully, 'Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?'

And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bernie Madoff's Ponzi Scheme Victims: The List

Ouch there are some high profile names in this list of victims. I read about this in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal but now I have found a nice list online.

Tremont Capital. Fund of funds. Lost "hundreds of millions". (announced on CNBC)

Maxam Capital Management LLC. Combined loss of $280 million. "I'm wiped out," said Sandra Manzke, Maxam's founder and chairman. The Darien, Conn., fund of hedge funds will have to close as a result of the losses, she said. (WSJ)

Fairfield Greenwich Group. Bloomberg: The biggest loser may be Walter Noel’s Fairfield Greenwich Group, whose $7.3 billion Fairfield Sentry Ltd. invested with Madoff’s eponymous firm, three people familiar with the matter said... Fairfield Sentry has a record of more than 15 years with an annual return of 4 to 6 percentage points above benchmark interest rates, according to a marketing document dated this month that was prepared by Zurich-based NPB New Private Bank Ltd. On an absolute basis, returns exceeded 10 percent every year from 1991 through 2000. Since then, they ranged from 6.4 percent to 9.8 percent...The strategy is a “split-strike conversion,” where the investment manager buys shares of large U.S. companies and enters into options contracts to limit the risk, the document says.

Fix Asset Management. Bloomberg: Fix Asset Management, which had an account worth at least $400 million with Madoff Investments. The firm said it’s checking with lawyers about the holdings. “We are very shocked,” John Fix, the son of founder Charles Fix, said by phone from Greece. “We put in redemptions in the past few months and got our money back no problem. We are just so surprised about all this.”

Kingate Management Ltd. Bloomberg says $2.8 billion Kingate Global Fund Ltd. invested with Madoff.

Thyssen Family. Source sends the following: Thybo Investments grew out of a family office for Thyssen. They have been in fund of funds it seems since 1989. Thybo International is a "proper" fund of fund but it's newer share class G invests only in one manager - and i'm 99% sure it's Madoff as the returns are almost the same. Some more info. The fund started in Jan 2007. Ernst & Young. Luxembourg are the auditors. UBS Luxembourg is the administrator. Thybo states on their webpage: "Our track record incorporates audited financial statements at both a composite firm-wide and individual portfolios level."

Ira Roth's family. WSJ: Ira Roth, a New Jersey resident, who says his family has about $1 million invested through Mr. Madoff's firm, is "in a state of panic." He said his 86-year-old mother-in-law has been living on the investments' returns, and he has been using the funds to pay college tuition.

That is just crazy, those numbers are approaching the bailout

More details here:

Friday, December 12, 2008

After 3 days of trying to take a picture for Christmas cards...

After 3 days of trying to take a picture for Christmas cards this is what we decided upon. It is good we have digital cameras otherwise we would have developed 10 rolls of film.

Pic For Christmas Card

we were going to do this one originally but decided to give it another shot and I think it turned out well

Xmas Pic

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

All the interviews I did with the SQL legends

Yesterday in the Christmas Came Early This Year post I linked to an interview I did with Itzik Ben-Gan, today I decided to link to all the interviews I did

The first interview I did was with the late Ken Henderson, I owe so much to Ken and his Guru's Guide to SQL books, they made me a much better developer. I was a technical reviewer for the 2nd edition of his Guru guide to SQL book and I just hope that it will be published some time...
An Interview With Ken Henderson About The Forthcoming Book SQL Server 2005 Practical Troubleshooting: The Database Engine

Say all you want about Celko and his behaviour in the newsgroups, he does write some pretty good books
Interview With Joe Celko About The Forthcoming Book Thinking In Sets
Inside SQL Server is a book every SQL Developer should have, it was an honor to interview SQL Goddess Kalen
Interview With Kalen Delaney About Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Query Tuning and Optimization

Adam's book is filled with really good advice, I keep coming back to this book all the time
Interview with Adam Machanic Author Of Expert SQL Server 2005 Development

If T-SQL is your thing then there is no one better that Itzik, his books will open your eyes to the world of T-SQL
Interview With Itzik Ben-Gan Author Of Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2005: T-SQL Querying

A nice interview about refactoring SQL applications
Interview With St├ęphane Faroult About Refactoring SQL Applications

I am a fan of Scott's column in Dr Dobbs and was very excited he wanted to do an interview
Database Refactoring Interview With Scott W. Ambler

Who doesn't know Erland? His curse and blessing of dynamic SQL is a must read
Interview With Erland Sommarskog About SQL Server and Transact SQL

Jamie is a real SSIS guru and I was glad he wanted to do this interview
Interview With SSIS Guru Jamie Thomson

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Came Early This Year

This just arrived in the mail.
Christmas Came Early This Year

A big thanks to Itzik Ben-Gan. I will put up a review in a week or so.
Now I have a big problem, should I watch the season finale of Californication or should I start beginning to read Microsoft® SQL Server 2008 T-SQL Fundamentals?

I will not tell you what I will do. I interviewed Itzik a while back about his SQL Server 2005 book, you can read that interview here: Interview With Itzik Ben-Gan Author Of Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2005: T-SQL Querying

How long did it take for the market to recover after 1929?

Someone left me a comment on the So You Think The Market Is Bad Now? It Went Down 89% Between 1929 And 1932 post asking for some additional data for the chart. Here is some of that data, as you can see it took 25 years to close above 400 again. Just imagine if this happens now, a lot of people will not be able to retire, the only problem is that there is not an abundance of jobs either, as a matter of fact there is a shortage.

Dow Jones Industrial Average Recovery

Click on the chart for a larger version

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Real Men Do NOT Use Fancy Bottle Openers

I have some family members who love to drink some good wine, some of them have these fancy openers. Take a look at this thing below

What the hell is that, you need a 10 page manual to understand what to pull or push with that thing. That opener looks like it will make Champagne out of white wine if you use it

Here is the only thing you need to open a bottle of wine

That opener did not cost me a single penny, I got it for free in 1993 and I am still using it. Before I worked in IT I was working in the restaurant business, my father had some restaurants and I just went along. I came to the United States in 1993 and worked for a couple of years as a waiter before getting into IT.
Back to the opener; you don't need these fancy openers at all, I have opened many bottles of wine with my simple opener. Here is a partial list, these wines will look familiar to some of you who like to collect and or drink fine wines
Opus One
Grgich Hills
Gaja Barbaresco
Gavi de gavi La Scolca black label
Tignanello (Villa Antinori)

Can you tell I worked in Italian restaurants? So where is the danger with opening wines? Take a bottle of Gaja Barbaresco for example, The cork is so long that you probably will break it into pieces if you are not careful. You need to screw the opener in as much as you can, pull out the cork a little, screw the opener all the way until it cannot go any deeper and then you need to carefully pull out the cork little by little. Some companies are switching to rubber corks and screwtops these days because there is less danger of the wine being spoiled that way. So remeber next time you are tempted to buy that 'fancy' opener, save your money, buy the cheap one and use the remainder of the money to buy a nice bottle of wine.

A nice podcast about wines is Wine Library TV hosted by Gary Vaynerchuk

So remember, real men do not:
  • Use fancy wine openers
  • Blow dry their hair
  • Use a Macintosh Computer(Oh yes, I will get some hate comments for that one)

I worked for about 3 years in New York City in the restaurant business, I have some crazy/funny stories, leave me a comment if you want me to write something about that. If I get a couple of comments asking for it I will write about it. For example I can tell you that Billy Joel takes his leftovers home.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Knowledge Transfer Lego Style

Knowledge Transfer Lego Style

Knowledge Transfer Lego Style

Obviously I had some creepy ideas this morning to come up with this while playing with my kids

Thursday, December 4, 2008

So You Think The Market Is Bad Now? It Went Down 89% Between 1929 And 1932

Most people are freaked out about the market right now; some people lost almost 40% in their portfolios/401Ks/529 plans and IRA. Yes that is terrible but did we hit bottom yet? Here are just some of today’s layoff announcements
Credit Suisse to cut 5,300 jobs
Nomura cutting 1,000 jobs
DuPont cutting 2,500 positions; 4,000 contractors to go
Viacom to slash 7% of its staff
AT&T to layoff 12000 positions

Except for Walmart November has been a disaster for stores, let’s take a look at some of them
Limited Brands sales at stores open at least one year fell 12%
Costco's same-store sales fell 5%
Aeropostale same-store sales declined 5%
Children's Place Retail Stores Inc sales dropped a worse-than-expected 7%.
Nordstrom same-store sales sink 15.9% in November
Chico's reports 15.4% drop in sales
Kohl's Corp. November same-store sales down 17.5%
Target Nov. same-store sales down 10.4%
Abercrombie same-store sales down 28%
Gap same-store sales down 10% in November

All we need now is for Ford, General Motors and Chrysler to go bankrupt and we will be in a perfect financial disaster storm. More people will default on their mortgages because they can’t refinance since they are under water or they simply can’t pay for even the lower mortgage payment if they did refinance since they don’t have jobs anymore. Banks will dump more houses on the market; this will bring down the prices of all the homes. More people will be under water and probably walk away from their homes since they will owe more than their house is worth. Take a look at what happened in Japan in the 1990s; prices of houses dropped over 60%

Take a look at this chart below(click on it for a larger version)

In that timeframe the high for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 381.17 and the low was 41.81. So in less than 4 years the market dropped a whopping 89.03%!!!!
Just imagine if the market would drop 89%, this would mean that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would go as low as 1535 from today's 8000+.

Now I am not saying it will happen and I certainly hope it does not, just keep in mind that all those people who say that we have hit bottom have no clue. Take a look closely at the chart do you see the rally after the crash of 1929, it went from November 1929 until April 1930, from then on it just went down hill.

Monday, December 1, 2008

How many movies do you know that are as good as the book?

How many movies do you know that are as good as the book? I can rattle of a humongous list of movies that are really bad but the book was excellent. Here are a couple of examples
Stephen King: The Stand, IT, Salem’s Lot
Michael Crichton: Sphere, Timeline, Congo

I always wonder how they manage to screw up so badly when making a movie from a book. There are times when a movie should not be made from a book. When I read Cold Mountain and then later I found out they made a movie I thought to myself that it has to be one of the most boring movies ever. I didn’t see the movie but cannot image it being any good, there really is nothing in the book that should make it to the screen. I can only assume that they added some stuff to make it watchable.

The Joy Luck Club
One movie which is as good as the book is the Joy Luck Club; this book is about four Chinese American immigrant families. It is a very interesting book showing you that the parents haven’t really assimilated and that the children are losing their heritage.

The Godfather
This is an awesome book and the movie is probably even better (I like The Godfather II better than the original).

Lord Of The Rings
Yes purist will say that there are whole chapters missing in the movies but I don’t care the LOTR trilogy is probably my favorite of all the movies I own. Of course you need to have the Extended Editions of these movies because 3 hours per movie is not merely enough.

Here are a bunch of books that I really like and I hope that someone makes some kickass movies out of them.
The Cobra Event
The Hot Zone
Digital Fortress
Angels And Demons
Neither Here Nor There, Travels In Europe
Walk In the Woods