Humor
September 29, 2010

The Polite Upgrade Notice

When I went to use Google Chrome yesterday, I noticed the following AdBlock plugin notice: After reading it, I realized it was one of the most polite notices I'd ever read. It also had a sense a humor that I usually only expected to see in Google-authored pages and applications. Good job, Michael, and everyone else at AdBlock. NOTE: As a web developer, I am very hesitant to use ad blockers, as ads are an important source of income for website owners. I usually only enable them when I reach a site that I feel is completely obnoxious with their placement and overall use of ads.
CostumesDragon*ConPersonal Stories
September 26, 2010

Dragon*Con 2010: Costume Runner-ups

While I was choosing my top 5 favorite costumes from Dragon Con 2010, I realized there would be a few runner-ups. I decided to reveal the best of these runner-ups in this blog post, listed in no specific order. Codex from The Guild The Guild is web-based show created by Felicia Day. It centers around the adventures of an odd group of gamers who are part of the same in-game guild. Needless to say, to truly appreciate the series, it is best if you have previous experience with MMORPGs. Felicia Day stars as Cyd Sherman, whose in-game character is named Codex. Codex can be seen briefly in the title screen of the series, but to get a clear idea of what she looks like, see her profile page at The Guild's website. Alan…
CostumesDragon*ConPersonal Stories
September 12, 2010

Dragon*Con 2010: Top 5 Costumes

As I mentioned previously, this article will cover my top 5 favorite costumes from Dragon Con 2010. Before we dive into the list, I feel I should first mention what I look for in these costumes. First, the more realistic the costume looks, the more I like it. If I get a feeling the character being portrayed might actually exist, then that's a success. To give you an example, I never really liked the Batman movies until I saw Batman Begins. To me, that's when the character really became respectable and interesting to watch. Second, the more specific the reference, the less people will recognize it - but the more value it has to those that do. Sure, people might appreciate how cool a costume…
CostumesDragon*ConPersonal Stories
September 11, 2010

Dragon*Con 2010: Costumes and Celebrities

This year, I attended Dragon Con for the first time. If you're not familiar with Dragon Con, it is a science fiction convention based in Atlanta, Georgia where actors, musicians, authors, directors, and artists in general gather to meet their fans. Having never been to such a convention, I didn't know exactly what to expect. I did, however, watch a few videos I found online, so I knew approximately how the panels were going to work. Upon arriving in Atlanta for the first time, I was immediately impressed with the overall landscape – not flat like the area I reside. Even while driving on the highway, it is possible to imagine that you're actually in the middle of a forest. This is made possible mainly…
HumorTips & Tricks
August 24, 2010

Preparing to Send You a Message

So, I installed the Trillian 5 Public Beta today, and was particularly amused when I encountered one of their new features: It lets you know when someone is preparing to send you a message, even if you weren't having a conversation with them. My initial reaction was that it was pretty creepy, but at the same time, I could see some interesting possibilities. First, if you see an incoming message that you're not interested in answering, you can choose to make yourself scarce, thereby granting yourself the possibility of pleading ignorance. Certainly not something I condone, but I still found it intriguing. Second, you can send a message to the person before they finish theirs. That way, you're exploiting the creepy nature of the feature…
Tips & Tricks
August 23, 2010

Using Google Search with SSL in Chrome

On May 21, 2010, Google announced the release of their new SSL Search service. This new search service behaves almost exactly like Google Search - the main difference being that it uses SSL for security. Wondering what SSL is? In the words of Google: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that helps provide secure Internet communications for services like web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, and other data transfers. When you search over SSL, your search queries and search traffic are encrypted so they can't be read by any intermediary party such as employers and internet service providers (ISPs). Source: Google SSL Search Help So, put simply, the announcement was great news for privacy and security enthusiasts everywhere. As one of these enthusiasts, I immediately…
Tips & Tricks
August 20, 2010

New Folder Shortcut in Windows

I'm constantly on the lookout for quicker ways to perform everyday tasks in Windows. That said, when I needed to create multiple empty folders at different folder depths, I questioned how I would do so with keyboard shortcuts. Windows 7 already facilitates the process of creating new folders, but most of the visible options are mouse-powered:   Despite these mouse-powered shortcuts, I've always felt that keyboard shortcuts were faster. With that in mind, I took my search to Google, and eventually and found what I was looking for: CTRL + SHIFT + N Great shortcut... after you press it, you can immediately start typing the folder name. No need to use the mouse in between creating the folder, and typing the name. There's just one unfortunate catch…
Reviews
July 24, 2010

Trapped In A Dialog

As you may know, I sometimes use Jing to take screenshots. Usually, this is when Snipping Tool stops working, and my kill the process trick doesn't revive it. Lately, when I booted my machine, I saw this dialog appear: Learn Jing Now? No thanks, I already know how to use Jing. So... what other options do I have? "Replay" "Sign Up Now" That's it. The usual Minimize-Maximize-Close buttons from Windows aren't there, and I don't see a Close button. Replay just starts the tutorial video again, and Sign Up Now sounds like I have to register for something . I already created a Screencast account - I remember doing that specifically to satisfy Jing. So, as far as I know, I don't need to sign up. Yet,…
Personal Stories
July 17, 2010

A True Case of Accidental Plagiarism

One college semester, long ago, I had an English class that ended with one very unfortunate event. It left me accused for something that I did not intend to do, forever changing the way I approach my written works. Back then, it took me up to 2 1/2 hours of travel time to get to school, and 2 1/2 hours to return home. I did this every day, and so I didn't have much time to relax when I got home. Think about it, I left home - it was dark out. I get home, dark - the only sunlight I saw was during my breaks at school. I'll likely focus on my transport stories in another post - it's a fascinating tale in itself;…
Tips & Tricks
July 11, 2010

Accessing the Menu Bar in Windows Vista and Windows 7

Before the introduction of Vista, Windows always featured a menu bar in Windows Explorer. It offered the following menu options: File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools, and Help. Below is a screenshot of the bar in Windows Server 2003: Since Vista, Microsoft has decided to hide the bar, by default. In Windows 7, here's what Windows Explorer looks like: While the menu bar is no longer visible, it hasn't been completely removed from the operating system. You can simply press ALT to make it appear. Once visible, it is designed to disappear whenever you left-click the Windows Explorer window. If you actually click the menu, you can execute one action, and then the bar will disappear again. In this manner, Windows ensures that the menu bar is…
Personal Stories
June 27, 2010

My Personal Advertising Experiment in All Points Bulletin

I've been playing All Points Bulletin as of late, and have had a good time doing so. Despite numerous flaws, it has by far the best customization tools I have ever seen. The company that created the game is called Realtime Worlds, which was founded by David Jones, who is most commonly known for creating the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Below is a video on the GameSpot YouTube channel, in which Jones describes some of the customization tools available in the game. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrXzyeHQhsc The video does a decent job at giving you a quick overview, but you really have to use the tools to fully understand. You can make stuff that looks like it was made in Photoshop, that's how advanced the customization options are. Layers,…
DevelopmentHumor
May 15, 2010

Two Inexplicably Dangerous Characters

Yesterday, as I was writing an e-mail to one of my employer's clients, I encountered a strange bug with Excel. The e-mail I was writing included instructions that the client should perform, and one of the steps actually involved creating a CSV file, which would then be opened in Excel. Before sending the e-mail, I decided to step through the instructions myself, and make sure everything worked as I expected. When I reached the CSV step, I found that while I could export it fine - I couldn't open it in Excel. I'll guide you through what followed using a really simple example CSV: ID,NAME 1,KARA 2,GAIUS 3,SAUL As you can see, the above CSV contents are completely valid. However, when I tried to open…
Tips & Tricks
May 9, 2010

Opera’s Quick Download Feature

There's a particular feature I've always liked in Opera. I've seen it implemented in slightly different ways within other browsers. Let's say I wanted to download my blog's sitemap.xml file, and I wanted to do this strictly from within the browser. When I visit the link: http://mattrefghi.com/sitemap.xml My browser doesn't download the file, it merely displays it. This happens because browsers know how to display XML, and they figure it makes more sense to show you the content - rather than initiate a download. The behavior is different with ".zip" files, for example. Browsers usually initiate a download when they are pointed to a URL that ends in ".zip". Downloading the physical XML is therefore slightly trickier. In Opera, I can just paste that exact…
Personal Stories
May 8, 2010

An Endless Wait For IntenseDebate

UPDATE: Soon after I wrote this article, Michael Koenig of IntenseDebate posted a comment with an offer to help me via his personal address. I appreciated the gesture, and made some modifications to the article below to reflect that. I think for the time being I will be keeping the default Wordpress comments, but will not completely rule out IntenseDebate for the future. In the beginning of April, I became aware that my blog was corrupt - no articles were visible, and the visuals weren't right. I promptly contacted my web host pair Networks, and after an hour of trying different things - their agent (who was extremely helpful), told me it was likely a problem within Wordpress. He tried repairing the database, but subsequent…
Personal Stories
March 28, 2010

Turning a Cat Into a Dog: Feeding Behavior

I've always preferred cats over dogs for one simple reason: independence. Still, I find myself wanting to enforce certain behaviors that are, well, dog-like. Whenever I grabbed the bag of food to feed my cat, he would get really excited, sometimes even blocking my ability to pour the food by sticking his head in the bowl. This eventually started to bother me, so I decided to train him how to behave when I'm giving him food. I decided he shouldn't be sticking his head in the bowl - he should be patiently waiting until I pour the food, and also wait for my command before he begins eating. I felt this would help cover cases where I wanted to add more than one type of…