a window into my world.

Become a Better Programmer: Use the Trash Can

by Benjamin Anderson 2. March 2009 12:32
A very nice take on the world of development:


Categories: Programming

Review: Outlier

by Benjamin Anderson 2. March 2009 12:24

Outlier is a great book.  It covers an unusual perspective that the individual is not the sole driver of one’s success.  The societal outliers are the result of linear progressions on inter-connected and related events.  It is a very interesting. and even entertaining read.  Definitely a must read.

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Categories: book | review

From the "Didn't Need a Study for This" Department

by Benjamin Anderson 27. February 2009 18:51
As reported by Wired, researchers have found that doodling helps people remember and concentrate during those boring classes and meetings.  Really?!  Those of us that doodle didn't need a study to realize that.

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Categories: news

CSS references

by Benjamin Anderson 13. February 2009 18:27

Today I checked the loading speeds of my site and blog.  Both are very fast, but I discovered a problem that could, and in some browsers does, slow down the site loading.  I found out that the references to images in my CSS files weren’t corrected, and since I have a custom 404 page for the blog, every single bad request loaded the 404 page.  This shouldn’t be a problem for smarter browsers, but it does take time for the browser to check those bad references, and in some cases it can cause recursive references to bad references.

So, be sure to check you’re CSS references and use services like Pingdom’s Full Page test:


Categories: Programming

Book Review: “Boys Adrift” by Leonard Sax

by Benjamin Anderson 9. February 2009 19:08

“Boys Adrift” is a very interesting book discussing case studies and Dr. Sax’s theories on why so many young men and boys have little to no drive in life and in school.  Dr. Sax discusses ADHD and ADD, behavioral drugs, environment effects, teaching methods and even video games.

While I do agree with the ideas and premise behind Dr. Sax’s book, since many of the things he discusses are things I’ve observed and argued throughout my life, there are several things that he places too much weight on in the book.  Dr. Sax places heavy blame on video games during the book, devoting an entire chapter on it and then constantly referring back to his negative view on video games.  But, I believe that this is a blind spot and not an undoing for what Dr. Sax does have to say.  While those that know me will know that I’m an avid gamer, even though I’ve had very little time to play over the last 6 years or so, and I’ve always been a gamer.  I grew up with the game consoles.  I grew up with nearly every major console in my house, and I spent several hours a week playing video games growing up.  My favorites were role playing games, but I enjoyed all genres and would spend much of my money renting and buying video games.  This does not me that I never went out to play.  I spent an equal amount of time tearing up the neighborhood during elementary and middle school.  Never have I considered video games real, nor have I committed more than 60% of my waking free time to playing games.  Video games were far more tempting and entertaining than the homework I had to do and the chores that had to be done, but I still got them done.

Until the eighth grade I was a straight ‘A’ student the majority of the time with only the occasional ‘B’.  But video games never interfered with my school work, or my drive.  In fact it is because of video games that I started programming with I was eight.  It is because of video games that I strove to improve my creative drive, my creative abilities and increased my technical knowledge.  For many “geeks” this is the case.

The point is, video games are not a cause or even a contributor to the problem, “addiction” to video games is a symptom of the problem.  Every generation has had the “devil” product that is eating the minds of our children.  It was reading fantasy and fiction books in the 1800s, then it was radio, then it was alcohol again, then it was jazz music, then it was the motion picture, then it was the TV and rock n’ roll, then it was the freedom movement, and now it’s video games, and most recently the internet.  Yes, without discipline these things do become problems, but they are not the cause of the problem.  Every new thing has its positives and negatives.  Everything.  Even reading.  Dr. Sax is blind to the fact that there has always been a scapegoat, and every single on of them has had research to prove how horribly destructive it is.  Well, there have been scientific studies that also support that capitalism, democracy and faith are destructive and counter-productive for society, but those studies are wrong too.

Yes, I agree that there is an increasing problem with the male gender in the United States, and I do agree that action needs to be taken, but this isn’t a new problem.  This has been a growing problem since the 40s, it’s a slow deterioration of moral and family foundation of this country.  The side part is, is that it is so infected with rot that is impacts immigrating families within a generation of coming to the states.  the family unit is no longer the foundation and priority of the American.  Everyone has become too selfish and too busy to actually raise their family.  Especially the upper end middle class American.  Both parents are working, the children are over schooled, over worked, under played and under loved.  I’m surprised the dogs don’t have more psychological issues now also.

Dr. Sax’s book is definitely worth a read, and it is very interesting, but I find it more difficult to acknowledge the validity of his other arguments after dumping so much of the problem on video games.  Doctors did the same thing with comic books in the 50s and 60s.  Even more doctors will begin to pick up on the Internet and social networking in the next 10 years.  The time consumers and mind numbing activities are not the causes, but the symptoms of much deeper and scary issues within the family units, society, our school systems, and how vastly explosive technology has dug into our lives.

So many of the things that Dr. Sax discusses as contributors to the dilemma have their roots in our societies instant satisfaction and constant running mentality.  Environmental pollution, too many plastic bottles, too much stress, too much to do, too little time and too little love.  It is all the result of our inability to discipline ourselves and our children, and our inability to say no.  Maybe the financial “crisis” will cause people to care for themselves and each other, spend some time with each other, and live with one another instead of work nonstop to pay for things we’ve already bought so that we can supply our children with things instead of love.

This title can be a good financial “crisis” escape, since it’s only $10.85 on Amazon, so go pick it up.

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Categories: review

Full Review: Daemon by Daniel Suarez

by Benjamin Anderson 9. February 2009 18:16

Daemon is a tech thriller based in our current timeline about a software program that takes over the world after its creator dies from brain cancer.  But, unlike other tech thrillers where software or robots take over the world this one has a lot of new twists.  I won’t go into any more detail about the plot and story, because you really just need to go pick up the book.

For techies, this book offers a lot to think about and examine as the story unfolds.  The story, while still completely fiction, seems more and more plausible the farther into the story you get.  I would recommend this book to any fan of science fiction, fantasy or modern mysteries.

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Categories: review

Layers | Screen forensics

by Benjamin Anderson 31. January 2009 13:06

This is a very cool little app for the Mac.  I don’t need it right now, but I do wish I knew of something similar on the Windows side of things.  Layers takes screen captures with each element/window in its own layer within a PSD.  Very cool.

Layers | Screen forensics

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Categories: Mac

Partial Review - Daemon

by Benjamin Anderson 30. January 2009 18:19
I haven't completely finished the book, but it is very entertaining, and I'd recommend it to anyone that enjoys sci-fi or tech thrillers.


Categories: book | review

Creating an Outlook My.Blogs Managed Code Add-in

by Benjamin Anderson 30. January 2009 17:42

This is actually a little old, but the examples and information are pretty cool for anyone wanting to add RSS and blog support to their .NET application.

Creating an Outlook My.Blogs Managed Code Add-in

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Categories: .NET | Programming

Week in Review

by Benjamin Anderson 23. January 2009 18:35

Wow, this has been a pretty crazy week.  I’ve been completely swamped at work.  Rebecca got back into town Monday night, and started school Tuesday night.  I’ve been working like crazy the last three weeks to get things ready for the multiple deadlines that we’ve had at work, but this week also had a bunch of interesting things happen in the news.

    • President Obama has his inauguration.  The Justice of the Peace jacks up the oath which brings up questions as to whether Obama can be official called the President.  This has lead to people saying that Biden was president.
    • Heartland Payment Systems announces one of the largest Data/Security breaches in history the day of the inauguration. Millions of credit card numbers and account information stolen by a sniffer within their own system.
    • Microsoft contributes to the Apache SOA project Stonehenge.  The sample looks very interesting.  It’s on my to-do list to download and experiment with.
    • Viz launched their Naruto anime subs last week on Hulu, and this week marks the first new one that hadn’t already been subbed by most of the fan groups. Viz is supposed to launch the sub episodes the week after the episode originally airs in Japan.
    • A bunch on the media is starting to pickup and examine Windows 7 with very positive reviews.
    • Microsoft announced that it will laying off 5000 people and cutting $1.5 Billion in expenses.  That’s 300K by individual they let go, so it’s obvious they are cutting more programs than they are cutting people, but it is still a huge deal.
    • Intel shuts down four plants and lays off 6000
    • Steve Jobs takes a leave of Absence.
    • Seagate announces flash update to prevent the 7200.11 drives from bricking on some systems.  The new flashed caused some drives to brick…  They are offering data recovery services for free though.
    • Tests for a new cloaking device have begun.

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Categories: life | news | technology


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About the author

Benjamin is a software developer in the DFW area.  He spends his free time playing video games, programming, doing graphics design and photography, and reading.

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