Tag: Geek

C++ College Flashback

One of my old coworkers from Progressive called me the other day. She is not a programmer but she is taking a C++ programming class because she thinks she might want to become a programmer. She was having troubles with her C++ homework assignment (dealing with templates, classes, stacks & queues).

Well, let me tell you.. I have not touched C++ since I was in college myself. I asked one of the guys that I work with who does C++ daily to help me remember how things work. He helped me setup an environment using a free compiler to compile and link my code. Then I had to relearn the syntax of templates and get comfortable with pointers again. It feels like a bad flashback college.

She will probably stop by today after work for some tutoring. I hope I can help her understand the concepts that her teacher wants her to learn with this assignment.



The other day I downloaded OpenOffice for our new laptop. OpenOffice is a free replacement for Microsoft Office. It was created by Sun but is now an open source project (I think). I use it at work on our Linux machines (non-Windows). It is a very good office suite .. so if you don’t have MS Office, I would advise using it. You can get it from:

The thing that totally blew me away was that I downloaded it using uTorrent in just a few minutes – literally 3 or 4 minutes. It was 100meg big but I was still able to get in in only a few minutes. uTorrent is a very small bit torrent client for file sharing. I’ve used others but it is nice and small.

OpenOffice is a good replacement of MS Office. Another option is Google Docs. Google Docs is free online software for writing docs or spreadsheets. It is also very good.

New Laptop For The Kids

Today after work I went to best buy and bought a new laptop computer for the living room. The kids will use this laptop and D will probably use it for email too. For its intended use, it is way too powerful.

This was a very good deal. I’ve been looking at laptop deals for weeks now and I think this is the best one I’ve seen. Normally this laptop is about $750. There were no mail in rebates or any forms to fill out. At checkout it was $580 after tax. So far I’m happy. I really like the feel of the keyboard and touch pad.

These are the specs:

HP – Pavilion TK-57 Laptop – $549
* AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 dual-core processor TK-57* with 64-bit platform
* 2GB DDR2 memory for multitasking power, expandable to 4GB
* Multiformat DVD±RW/CD-RW drive with double-layer support records up to 8.5GB of data or 4 hours of video using compatible media; also supports LightScribe direct-disc labels using compatible LightScribe media
* AMD dual-core technology enables you to work or play with multiple programs without impacting performance; AMD64 technology provides simultaneous support for 32-bit and 64-bit computing
* 15.4″ WXGA high-definition widescreen display with BrightView technology and 1280 x 800 resolution
* 160GB Serial ATA hard drive (5400 rpm)
* NVIDIA GeForce Go 7150M (UMA) graphics with up to 799MB total available graphics memory; S-video TV-out
* 5-in-1 digital media reader supports Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO and xD-Picture Card
* IEEE 1394 (FireWire) interface and 3 high-speed USB 2.0 ports for fast digital video, audio and data transfer
* Built-in high-speed wireless LAN (802.11b/g); 10/100Base-T Ethernet LAN with RJ-45 connector; 56 Kbps modem; Expansion Port 3 connector
* Weighs 6.1 lbs. and measures just 1.6″ thin for portable power; lithium-ion battery and AC adapter
* Long-lasting HP Imprint high-gloss finish with inlaid Radiance pattern design and silver interior
* Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition operating system preinstalled; software package included with HP Photosmart Essentials, muvee autoProducer DVD, CyberLink DVD Suite and more

Linux Distributions

Today I downloaded 4 different Linux Distributions (OpenSUSE, Mandriva, Ubuntu & Fedora). For those that down know, Linux is a free substitute for Microsoft Windows. I booted a LiveCD (a LiveCD is a bootable CD that lets you run from the CD and doesn’t put anything on your hard drive) on my desktop just to try out OpenSUSE. It was pretty nice. The only problem I detected was that the speakers didn’t work. I only fooled around with it for about 5 min so who knows what else didn’t work (printer, usb, mem stick, backup drive, etc). I booted my old (very old) laptop up with each of the CDs and couldn’t get them to work. I still haven’t tried Fedora but I’m not very confident after failing with the other 3. The goal here was to try to speed up the old laptop. No luck. I’ll probably end up buying a $600 laptop instead.

Wireless B vs. G

I have an 8 year old laptop that is very slow … Pentium III class. I wanted to try to get it working well enough that the kids can use it to go to noggin.com, nickjr.com, or the online computer lab at M’s kindergarten. The main problem is that it is very slow. I started thinking about the speed problems and decided that the problem could be the fact that it uses wireless B technology instead of the newer G or N. I tested my theory by plugging the old laptop into my network and seeing how fast that was. The wired connection is much faster than any of these wireless options. To my pleasure the laptop became usable at sites like noggin.com. The laptop is still very slow but the network connection is a lot of the problem. OK, so I went to Walmart to buy a wireless G card. It was $35. I installed it and took the laptop downstairs to try it out. It is faster than it was but not as fast as the wired connection (but close). This setup should do for the kids until I get around to buying a new laptop.

Disposable Email Addresses

I’ve been using this service called Spam Gourmet to help me limit my spam for a while. It works very well. If I had used this for everything I have ever signed up for I would be nearly spam free today.

The idea is this – whenever you need to give out an email address to a business give them a temporary email address at spam gourmet. The email address limits the number of messages that will come through to you. So:


is an address that I would give to Amazon when I ordered something. This address does not already have to exist with spam gourmet to work. Amazon can send up to 5 emails to that address and they will be forwarded to my real address. After those 5, spam gourmet will eat them and no longer pass them on to me. The 5 can be any number up to 20. If I decide that I want to get more messages from an email address that I gave out, I can always go to spam gourmet and increase the messages allowed to 20 again.

I have used these disposable email addresses a couple hundred times now and it is still doing a good job for me. I can’t even imagine how much spam I would get if it weren’t for spam gourmet.


I just downloaded and installed Safari.  Safari is Apple’s web browser and it is pretty nice so far.  It is in beta so there is a toolbar icon of a bug which makes it easy for you to report bugs to them.  I’m making this blog post from within Safari.  I like the minimalist feeling that it gives so far.

I just had to uninstall and reinstall Opera because it was behaving badly.  I had to uninstall it, reboot, delete it’s directory, reinstall it.  Now it seems to be working OK.  D uses Opera for her web surfing.
I also checked for updates to Firefox which is what I normally use.  There were some so I installed those too.
All caught up with the latest browser code out there 🙂  I’ll keep you posted on how Safari turns out.  I think I’ll install it on my work machine so I can try it out there too.