Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Today I'm sick and was also sick yesterday. Being sick sucks. I don't really have a temperature, but all the symptoms of a cold are there. Now finishing my second container of chicken soup. What really sucks is that I'm all out of both store bought pepper vodka and my homemade one.
I put up my Sinai Academy / BHI alumni page. Took me around 8 hours to make, including the back-end. The add profile form and list sort and filter are both using AJAX. I solicited some people to add their profiles and now there's 6 total. Not bad considering I just posted it.
A girl from BHI signed up and suggested I check out facebook. Nice site, but you have to add people to your account if you want to see their info. There's a lot of people from BHI, but very few from Sinai and only one person that I know. For some reason, Sinai, a more technically inclined school than BHI, has no current website or alumni list. BHI has a nice alumni website, albeit no more updates since last year and webmaster's email is dead. Sinai, on the other hand, has two websites, both haven't been updated in years. Gena's Sinai alumni page is gone. I know there are people on LinkedIn, unfortunately, they don't provide a field or search for high school. I emailed LinkedIn customer service about this oversite three days ago. I got an auto-reply that they'll get back to me within three business days. It's been three business days, no reply.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Prospect Park

We took Shlomik to Prospect Park zoo today. Never noticed before that Prospect Park train station has an elevator. It's in the middle of the platform and instead of walking to the park's main entrance, you can just cross the street and walk along the road to the zoo.
When we got to the zoo, Shlomik fell asleep. We walked around waiting for him to wake up. The baboons had a baby. Shlomik woke up when we got to the red pandas. He loved them. He kept screaming and pointing. My mother even bought him a small plushy of a red panda. We tried to get him inside a turtle shell that's towards the end of the trail but he only agreed to sit on top of the shell. He liked the sea lion feeding.
Before going to see the sea lion feeding, we went to the "Animals in our Lives" exhibit. He loved the meerkats. He stood right in front of the glass and started banging on it and yelling. He looked very happy. One of his first words was moo, or boo as he says it, and now he finally got to see a cow. He was pointing at it and saying boo, but did not want to get too close to it as it was big and I guess kinda scary for him. We also saw sheep, goats and llamas. Shlomik decided that a llama is also a cow, boo.
There were some changes in the zoo. Mice, hamsters and guinea pigs got replaced with insects. Insects are not that cute, put back the guinea pigs. Capybaras got replaced with two Asian Small-Clawed Otters. The otters are very cute, but I liked the Capybaras too. A Capybara is the biggest of the rodent family.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Yesterday I answered a question on LinkedIn about using username vs email for logins. Both have their pluses and minuses. Usernames are more secure but can be very frustrating for the users.
Most developers fail to understand what the user will have to go through when registering. One of the worst experiences I had with a sign-up page would be where all the information was asked on one page and validation was done server-side. Why is this bad? Well, I was asked for username, password, security question and asked to validate with CAPTCHA. Most of the time, the username a user wants is not available and that was the case with me. After entering all that information, I was sent back to the sign-up page, except now I had to not only re-enter the username, but also the password, security question and answer and the CAPTCHA. Now, consider having to do that five times or more and think how frustrated the user will become.
Incidentally, I also have an interesting experience regarding the security question. I was setting up an account for my wife and the security question was city of birth. The city where she was born is four characters long, however, I was informed that that's too short and a city name has to be at least five characters long. So, if you were born in a city with four characters or less, tough luck, go use some other site.
To make the user experience as painless as possible, any field that has a high probability of failing validation, like username and password, must be validated before the user hits submit. Though it's best to leave the server-side validation in place in case the user has JavaScript disabled, client-side validation must be present. Username should be validated using AJAX. Password, security question and any other volatile fields that require validation but don't require a call to the server, should be validated as they are entered. All other fields and "required field" validation can be done when user hits submit with an onsubmit function. Warning message can be outputted with an alert or by writing to an error div. I, personally, prefer an error div since it looks nicer than the alert popup.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Shlomik learned some new words. One word is matzah, no wonder here. He loves matzah, in fact, that's the only way he'll eat soup, by filling the bowl with matzah. Another word was water, didn't sound very cleat so not sure about it. Also, he should be saying juice instead since that's what he mostly drinks. Today, he also said Anna. Anna is my friend's daughter who dropped by today. There's a picture of her feeding Shlomik on the photos page.
I got my firewire cable today, which means I'll be able to upload some videos of Shlomik eating. Unless I'm too lazy of course.
We're going away for all except one meal for Shavuot. For that meal, the menu is beef tongue, yum. We're eating duck now, and that got me thinking of buying a duck and roasting it in the rotisserie.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ocha ga arimaska?

On Wednesday, I went with my friend to Katagiri, a Japanese store in Manhattan.

While walking to the store from the train, we passed by a pet store. To the left and right of the entrance there were window "cages" filled with the most adorable puppies. Some of the puppies were fighting, some were lounging around and some were just walking around, but all of them were kawaii!
Katagiri was a little disappointing, and the gift shop, even more so. Originally, we were planning on going to Sunrise Mart in the Village, anothe Japanese store. However, after finding out that Sunrise Mart is a "small, cozy, Japanese supermarket" and Katagiri is the "oldest Japanese store in New York" and it has an adjoining gift shop, we went to Katagiri. I don't know which store is bigger, but Katagiri seemed very small and perhaps we should have went to Sunrise. On a positive note, I bought a 12 pack of the very hard to find Kirin beer, two 150oz bags of imported green tea leaves and two packs of green tea with brown rice. Barley tea, a famous summer drink in Japan, was unfortunately not Kosher and unlike tea leaves, needs to be Kosher. Most of the shopper and all of the workers were Japanese and were very nice. The store also sells sushi rice though a bigger selection of rice and nori can be found in bigger stores in Chinatown.
The gift shop was a big disappointment. The store was tiny with hardly anything there and what was there was ridiculously overpriced. Plastic soup bowls that I ordered from Japan for $3 were being sold for $8. A one cup traditional tea kettle went for $73. The Chinese owned Japanese store on Brighton is not only cheaper but 3 or 4 times bigger.
Next time I want to check out Sunrise Mart, specifically to find out if they have Kirin. If Sunrise doesn't, I guess I'm going back to Katagiri.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Today was a lazy day. I had about an hour's worth of bugs in the morning and then spent the day on digg and fark. Wanted to go to a new Chinese store on ave U for some loose tea, didn't. Had some other stuff I wanted to do but was out of it the whole day. Well, tomorrow is a new day which I plan to utilize. One of my friends has vacation and was planning to go to Manhattan to check out some Japanese stores. I decided I'll tag along, they should have tea too. Also, have an idea for a new t-shirt design involving otters.
Last, but not least, I started the process of dual booting XP and Ubuntu on my old computer.
Progress report on everything tomorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2007


We finished Chagigah today and started Yevamos. That's the end of our monthly parties. By the time we finish Yevamos, it's going to be September. Today's siyum was nice, though could use more meat. We started ordering food from Benny's on Ocean Ave and M about 3 months ago. He makes awesome shish lamb ribs. Dolma's always good, plov could have been better. We got some new dish, ground lamb balls in fried dough, excellent. As usual there was Russian potato salad, though this time it was topped with a Maraschino cherry. Different, but tasty.
Made brown rice in my Zojirushi rice cooker for Shlomik today. My mother decided to add some soup to the bowl. Shlomik decided it would look nicer on the tray of the highchair than in the bowl. Maybe it's my dislike of modern art, but I was not amused.
Bought a coffee maker for my friend's birthday and one for myself, you gotta love Woot.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Using the alternate CD, I've finally managed to install XUbuntu Feisty. Not only has the 450MHz Compaq piece of crap stopped crashing, it's now running faster.
One of the things I love about Ubuntu is the Add/Remove programs function. Never before has it been easier to find and install what you need. Whether you want a game, an office application or a system application, all you have to do is scroll through the available programs, click the one you want, and you have it. The best part, they're all free.
Now all that's left is to make all my friends with old computers install Ubuntu or XUbuntu.
With Dell embracing Ubuntu and HP on the way, the only thing that's keeping Ubuntu from taking the upper hand is games. Dual booting is an option, however, with Micro$oft stopping distribution of XP and Vista's horrible compatibility issues and Wine's spotty performance, all we can hope for is that either someone makes a more stable program for running windows applications in linux or that game companies will start coming out with linux versions of their games.

Friday, May 11, 2007


A couple days ago I decided to try installing XUbuntu on my wife's old computer (museum piece). Now, to fully appreciate what kind of crap it is, it's one of Compaq's screw ups. This model is assembled on a motherboard with onboard SIS video, 2 for a dollar CD-ROM and a weak PSU. This model is also famous for its constant crashes under Windows, mostly attributed to the video card. To start, I added 2 more sticks of ram since XUbuntu requires a minimum of 128MB for install and this crap had 64MB - 8MB video. After trying and failing to install the OS in silent mode and finally turning off the logo to see what the software is doing, I found out that the 2 for a dollar CD-ROM is most probably trashed. Today I replaced it with a bit newer CD-ROM that my dad had lying around. Though the no loading problem was solved, I was faced with a new problem, probably because of the video card. The install would freeze at 15% of the last step. Thanks to the power of Google, I was glad to discover that I'm not the only one with that problem and that there's a solution that's almost guaranteed to work. The solution is using a text only install. The problem is that I have to download another 700MB image, which is what I'm doing now. Hopefully this story will have a happy ending, preferably tomorrow.
My dad fixed my bike today. After almost a year I finally have a bike again. Yes, I'm that lazy. I considered buying a new bike, however, it would very likely get stolen or at least the wheels would be. My old bike, on the other hand, doesn't look like something that a thief would want. My first outing was to go buy meat in my favorite supermarket, which is unfortunately a half hour away if I walk there. Today they had 2 additions to their meat menu, one of which I bought. They make very good shish lamb and kufta which I buy every week and "grill" in my rotisserie. Today they had shish kebab made out of sweetbread. I bought it, cooked, tried one piece...I think it's too salty, also very expensive. The other novelty which I didn't buy, was a meat lollipop. No, that's not my name for it, that's what was printed on the package. What this contraption look like is actually a swirly lollipop, though 3 on a skewer instead of on. The pieces are made from long strips of meat wound into a circle. Perhaps I'll try it next week if they still have it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Added RSS to my site. One channel for news and one for Daf Yomi. Also, finally moved my news posts into a database instead of adding them by hand every time. The admin page and RSS feeds were very easy to write. I'm finally adding a programming section to my site and the first article will be about setting up RSS feeds using PHP and MySQL. The only real snag I hit while working on the feeds was that Google Reader takes its time refreshing feeds. There's a refresh button, but it doesn't seem to do anything other than refresh the window. It doesn't actually refresh its cache. Adding items to my feed and not seeing them in the Reader made me think they were formatted wrong, but googling the problem led to find out that Google Reader may take a few hours to refresh the feed.
On another note, I finally got a tape for my camcorder. My son, who's now 15 months old, was very much enjoying the show when I flipped the screen towards him so he could watch himself eat. Now with the tape, I can tape the cute faces he was making.