Monday, July 31, 2006

New Software Release: Instant Boss

I have finally finished the first version. This is based on a request made by JacobB over at the coding snack forum.

This will time your work/break cycles, reminding you when to work and when to take a break.

The defaults are 10 minutes of work, 2 minutes of break, and this is repeated 5 times for a total of 1 hour.

These values can be changed to suit your needs. The program will remember the values you used during your last session.

Start by entering in the values you desire:

  • The first box is for how long you want to work.
  • The second box is for how long you want your breaks.
  • The third box is for how many times you want to repeat this cycle.

    Click Apply to set the new values.

    Click Work to begin.

    In the statusbar you can see where in your work cycle you are, followed by how long you have worked this session, followed by how long you have worked since you started using Instant Boss.

    Instant Boss will tell you when it is time to take a break. You will have the choice to keep working a little longer, take your break now, or skip your break and begin next work period.

  • If you decide to keep working, it will count up and add this to your total work time. You can then decide when to take a break by clicking the take a break button.
  • If you decide to skip your break, it will begin the next word period in the cycle.
  • If you decide to take a break now, it will begin your break period.

    At the end of your break period, you will be told to get back to work and offered a few choices.

  • If you decide to work, the work timer will begin.
  • If you decide to take a longer break, it will extend your break by 50%, and remind you again when your time is up, to get back to work.
  • If you click cancel, you will have to start work manually by clicking the work button again.

    There is a pause button in case you are interrupted by phone calls or other things that need your attention. This can be used during both work or break periods.

    The reset button...use with caution. This will stop all timers and reset everything to default values of 10-2-5 so that you may begin again. It will not reset how long you have worked today, nor the total time you have worked since you started using the Instant Boss program.

    Clicking the X to close the program will result in it being minimized to the system tray. The only way to exit is through the right click menu on the tray icon. All of the button options also appear on that menu.

    For power users, there are command line parameters you can use to preset the values when you run Instant Boss.

    Example:"C:\Program Files\Instant Boss\InstantBoss.exe" 60 15 3
    (there is a space after the last quote and a space between each number)

    You can either use this from the Windows Run dialog or use it as shortcut targets. The numbers correspond with work-break-repeat, in that order. Please use only numbers, no letters.


    Instant Boss

    Visit Instant Boss homepage.

    This is donationware. If you like it and find it useful, please consider making a donation to me to show your appreciation. Your donations is the only money I make for all of my time & effort invested in creating my software.

    Donate to author of Instant Boss


    recieved from Weird NJ newsletter:

    The Appalachian Mountains stretch all along the eastern Coast of the US, and go thru NJ in the area of Warren, Passaic, Morris, and Sussex County. Here you can gain elevation of 800 or 900 feet and see miles of forest (or new developments -- pfft!) as far as the horizon. On the boundary of West Milford and Bloomingdale is a state park with typically beautiful views, but also something very very unique called the Stone Living Room (SLR). The SLR has provided a resting place for weary campers, hikers, backpackers, cub scouts, explorers, and couples for three decades, perhaps longer. Located about a 30 minute hike up a steep trail, you might take off your backpack and sit for a while and enjoy the view. Someone in the 1970s decided they needed something more, so they lugged slabs of rock from the surrounding hilltop and made a base, created a back to lean against, and then piled rock behind it make it secure. When I visited the SLR three years ago, I was amazed by how comfortable it actually was. It didn't feel like rock, though perhaps I was so tired from my hike that I didn't care and was just grateful for the resting spot.

    The SLR unfortunately attracted partygoers who would come to the spot to drink and light a bonfire in a makeshift fire pit. Fires are against the rules in all state parks because of the potential for a forest fire, but this doesn't stop people from lighting them all the time. The noise, the litter, and the fire hazard made this a source of irritation for the local residents and the Parks Department. Over the years, the trail maintainers would dismantle the fire pit from time to time. The fire pit was always rebuilt, mainly because it's not hard to make; a few rocks in a circle and there you go.

    West Milford is known for many things, most of which they'd rather not be associated with: Demon's Alley with its vandalism and arson, Jungle Habitat with its stories of animal abuse and escapes, and Clinton Road with the tales of ghosts, witches and wild animals. The SLR, on the other hand, was a positive thing, something West Milford should have been proud of. Unfortunately, for someone it was not so positive. In mid-May of 2005 someone destroyed the SLR, cracking the larger pieces of stone in an effort to prevent it from being rebuilt.

    Why would anyone destroy it? Could it be the Parks dept, tired of the complaints and threats of fire? If it was, it's strange that they wouldn't also have destroyed the fire pit. When I asked the Parks Dept they denied any responsibility, and I believe them. If they had, they'd simply admit it and justify it somehow and that would be that. What about the explorers who enjoy being destructive? It seems unlikely that someone who might tag an abandoned building with graffiti or break windows in a mental institution would have done this, since most people enjoyed coming here, especially the explorer types. The most likely culprit is a local resident. Tired of the noise, the partying, and the fires that could threaten their homes, perhaps they decided they would eliminate this magnet for partyers once and for all.

    In July 2005 a group of adults and children spent three hours moving rocks, using tools to pry up pieces of slab, and lining them up so that the SLR would be comfortable, and also stable once again. Some of them had never visited the SLR before, but volunteered because they knew this was something unique that deserved to live again. The fifteen people left that day feeling that they had righted a wrong, secure in the knowledge that it would be there many years from now. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Within eighteen hours, the unknown vandals struck again and destroyed the SLR for a second, and sadly, final time. They destroyed the rocks, cracking the slabs into pieces, ensuring they could not be reused to reconstruct the SLR a third time. The SLR cannot be rebuilt without going great distances to get suitable pieces of building material, making the chances of another rebuild very remote.

    Whoever you are, you have eliminated something that was special to people from all walks of life, all age groups, and from all over NJ and beyond. You've taken a vista with wonderful views and made it a sad place. Anyone who visits the SLR now will see the shattered pieces of rock and know that there was once something special there, and that someone destroyed it. The partying will likely continue, and so will the pit fires. The only difference will be that the partyers will be a bit more stiff-legged and might have some sore muscles. I can't imagine your motives for destroying such a unique NJ attraction. I pity anyone who's life is so miserable and purposeless that they are left with nothing to do but destroy what others have built and hate a place that has brought a smile to the faces of so many. -A Reader

    It's a damn shame when spiteful people destroy landmarks that bring joy to others. Things like the Stone Living Room are part of what makes New Jersey great. People have traveled the country looking for things like this, and I have a sort of pride in my state for having so many cool locations for the seekers of the weird to visit.

    I never did get to see the Stone Living Room. It was one of those things that were on my list of places to see...and now I never will.

    Thanks a lot, you jerks!

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    PRODUCT RECALL: Did you buy your desk chair at Walmart?

    Dangerous chairOffice Chairs Sold at Wal-Mart Recalled for Fall Hazard

    Hazard: The legs and backs of these chairs can break, and the chairs can easily tip over, posing a fall hazard to consumers.

    Incidents/Injuries: Wal-Mart has received nine reports of chairs breaking and two reports of tipping. There have been seven reported injuries, including a broken wrist.

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Calling all C++ programmers

    DonationCoder is holding a big C++ contest with many categories you can enter. Everyone that enters will get something, even if their project doesn't win.

    This contest has some really good sponsors and the prize list is pretty cool.

    Deadline for entry is July 14, 2006 August 14, 2006*, so head on over there and check it out and enter. Not that many have entered yet so right now your chances of winning are pretty good.

    Even beginners have a chance of winning. You can enter the small utility category if you have an idea and feel like learning something. So if you have been putting off learning C/C++ now might be a good time to start hitting the books.

    *deadline has been extended another month, for those that aren't quite ready and to give others a chance to still enter

    Sunday, July 09, 2006

    Forgiving the Unforgivable

    Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harms we do, we do to ourselves.

    - Mitch Albom, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven"

    I am still trying to learn forgiveness, for my own sake..not the sake of those I seek to forgive. They don't know and they don't care about it. They think they have done no wrong.

    It's very easy to forgive someone when they know they have done something wrong, admitted it and have asked for forgiveness.

    It's the ones that think they are perfect and do no wrong, or think you somehow deserved what they did to you...those are the hard ones to forgive.

    But for my own sake, those are the ones I need to forgive the most. I don't have to tell them they are forgiven...just do it. Then I can put it in the past & move on.

    I think it's easier if you know why they did what they did. But when they are not willing to admit they did anything, the real reason is hard to get to.

    When a guy tells you he is sorry for all the crap he did while drinking and asks you to forgive him, and tells you he gave up drinking because he realized what it was doing to him and the people he loves, it's easy to understand the whys behind his actions. He had a drinking problem. Now you can forgive, easily.

    But when someone won't even admit something happened, or that it wasn't them, or that you somehow deserved it, or that it was your own fault...then what?

    Does it help to tell yourself the reason they did what they did is because there is something wrong with their mind? That they are ill? That it's also part of their sickness that they are denying it the way they do?

    Maybe. It's what I try to tell myself when I feel myself dwelling on the past and hurting from it. It doesn't lessen the hurt, but it makes it a bit easier to forgive at that moment. It kind of replaces the anger with pity.

    But I can't forgive once & for all and move on. It's very hard. So I am taking it in the moment it occurs. Forgive...and forgive again...and again...and again...each time it comes to my conscious mind and holds me back.

    It's all I can do...for myself...not them.

    Are you ready to try Linux?

    You have been running Windows since forever and Windows is all you know. But you are getting fed up with the security holes and instability. You are tired of paying for OS upgrades. You are curious about alternatives to Windows, but are you ready for Linux? What do you really know about Linux? What do you need to know?

    This article attempts to give you the newbie's facts in order to help you make up your mind as to whether you want to try Linux or not. This is not for the experienced Linux user or someone that has already made up their mind. This is more for the 'lin-curious' ones out there seeking some info.

    It will attempt to answer these 6 questions:

    1. How many versions of Linux are there?

    2. What applications are available for Linux? And what the heck is LAMP?

    3. How can I listen to some tunes?

    4. What "desktop" environment should I use with my distro?

    5. Linux on the server, Linux on the desktop -- which is it?

    6. You've given me lots of facts, but not much advice. How do I get started?

    Six Things You Didn't Know About Linux: A Beginners' Guide

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Test Your Knowledge of Ubuntu Topics

    Take this quiz to see if you are ready for the real test.

    As reviewed last month, the latest Linux certification to go live is that of Ubuntu Professional. To earn this certification, you must first become LPI certified at Level I (LPIC I), and then pass an additional exam. The following questions are intended to allow you to test your knowledge of the topic and make certain you are ready for this certification before you begin considering it or preparing for it. Answers are at the end of the article. Good luck!"

    Nokia Picked For Mobile Multimedia Wi-Fi In NYC Parks

    Free wifi is coming to Central Park!

    "New Yorkers can enjoy some of their favorite pastimes while in the parks " such as reading the paper, listening to music or accessing the Internet " in an entirely new way,"

    Including getting mugged for their laptops?

    Now combine that with this one:


    "You don't have to necessarily be connected for these device driver flaws to come into play," Ellch said. "Just because your wireless card is on and looking for a network could be enough."

    Am I the only one that thinks this is scary?

    How many script kiddies will be hiding in Central Park when this is in full force?