Jeff Sexton

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spread the Wealth

John McCain official photo portrait.Image via WikipediaMcCain...

To me this appearance on Larry King sums up why McCain doesn't come off so well. He is really bad at spewing nonsense the way many others on the right do. McCain, of course, as any sane person does, actually has reasonable views on things (we might disagree with him, but he's (probably) not crazy (I think...)). When his natural inclination to be reasonable collides with hysterical political slogans and mud slinging, McCain does a poor job of explaining himself.

When McCain did his best, it was just him, on a bus, talking with people. He barely even had a staff at the time. The trouble is, as many pointed out back then, you can't run a national campaign that way.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008


Image via Wikipedia

"Douglas McIntyre, writing on the 24/7 Wall Street blog, believes the Dow Jones industrial average could fall 1,000 points on Friday – and he does a nice job of summarizing why investors have suddenly become pessimistic about a rebound in either the stock market or the economy.

“The most deeply pessimistic economists that most of the world thought were crazy six months ago, even one month ago, are turning out to be right,” he said."

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Friday, October 17, 2008

All's Not Well in the Kingdom?

"Home > Edgefield

The information you requested does not exist"

Buy Low, Sell High

WASHINGTON - MARCH 13:  Warren Buffett, chairm...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

"I've been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I'm talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities."

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Hamburger Experiment 5Image by PixelAndInk via Flickr

"It took Brad Sciullo 4 hours and 39 minutes to finish a marathon. A meat marathon, that is. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound western Pennsylvania chef is the first person to eat a monstrosity called the Beer Barrel Belly Bruiser: a 15-pound burger with toppings and a bun that brought the total weight to 20.2 pounds."

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Feline Diabetes

My cat Calic was diagnosed with diabetes this week. After doing a lot of reading on the subject, I concluded that I should try treating it. This will involve injecting insulin twice a day. Fortunately this is not very expensive, although there is a high up-front cost of a lot of testing at first to determine the correct dose. Cats are very hard to regulate in this respect, and every one is different.

And she needs to switch to a food low in carbohydrates from grain (luckily she likes the new food).

The worst thing about this is that she will really need the shot at the same times every day. I will have to plan everything I do with that in mind. I figured it's worth a try though if she can be brought to a stable state, since diabetes is not at all fatal, if treated, in cats. It seems to be less of a problem than it is in humans, once the correct dosage of insulin is determined. And she can still live relatively normally for an indefinite amount of time. I hope it's not a dumb thing to do.

Calic was a surplus, unused, lab animal from a project at a neuroscience lab. She was raised at a cat farm without human contact. There are numbers tattooed in her ears.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Not Exactly Uplifting

Performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Index ...Image via Wikipedia

"At the end of 1964 the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded at 874.1. Seventeen years later, despite rapid inflation, the average had inched forward only to 875. It was the kind of grinding bear market that drove investors to despair. Near its end, Business Week famously proclaimed “The Death of Equities”."

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Unicode plane 2600-26F0Image via WikipediaLately I've been working with Netbeans and OpenESB on a project requiring the use of a number of features of this relatively new JBI technology. It's been interesting to say the least. Here's an issue I've uncovered this morning.

Several of the projects actions can be triggered by XML files appearing it directories which the server polls. I've used the file binding component for these with no difficulty - that is until I got to one for which the input and XSD schema are provided for me. They're part of another system with which the new server must interact.

The sample XML is UTF-16, little endian, which Windows knows as "unicode". I built the module to poll the directory and read this file just like I had with other operations, but there was an error validating the XML; "Content is not allowed in prolog."

I made sure that the schema declared UTF-16, the input file declared UTF-16, and everything actually was in fact UTF-16LE, no luck. Experiments revealed that the file worked perfectly if I opened it in Windows Notepad and saved it as "ANSI" file type. In fact, if I did that, the file would read in file regardless of the encoding stated in the header of either the XML or the XSD.

Further reading lead me to the Byte Order Marker (BOM). The BOM is FEFF in hex, a unicode, two byte character, denoting a zero-width, non-breaking space. A file designated as UTF-16 will have a BOM at position zero that will be either FEFF or FFFE (the reverse). The order of these bytes indicates the file's endian-ness. Hex-dumping my sample file revealed the BOM.

00000000: FF FE 3C 00 3F 00 78 00 6D 00 6C 00 20 00 76 00 ■<.?.x.m.l. .v.

00000010: 65 00 72 00 73 00 69 00 6F 00 6E 00 3D 00 22 00 e.r.s.i.o.n.=.

I get the error about content in the prolog because of the BOM character appearing before the XML header.

This maybe related to this Netbeans bug declared fixed earlier this year.

Maybe not quite... I'm not sure what I'll have to do about it.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008


Rock-paper-scissors chartImage via WikipediaRock, paper, scissors.. Who knew?

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