Hypercubed Blog

Incoherent chatter on issues related to science, computing, and philosophy.
Random chains of thought from a scattered mind.

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Job Burnout
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2005 9/28/2005 10:02:00 PM

TheFabricator.com has a three part article on job burnout. It includes help on identifying job burnout and some tips on how to manage it. According to their self-diagnosis test I'm 97 -- "a candidate for job burnout" 4 points shy of "burning out". That is a relief as I thought I was already burnt out! I know shouldn't feel burnt out. I haven't been at this job long enough to feel burnt out. But the feelings of pointlessness and the total disgust for big business attitudes have crept in. How can anyone feel a sense of accomplishment in this big business culture were you are ranked solely on your cost savings for the company rather then the quality of your work. Where every idea for quality improvement needs to be accompanied by a 10 page report on how your proposal saves the company money. I don't think it is my company in particular but big companies in general. One of this articles tips is to get a new job. I really don't think that will make a difference... it will be the same crap with different people.

To me the most reasonable tip for a burnt out employee appears to be detachment... in other words just stop caring. I care about my job because I feel it is a career. If I view it simply as a 9-5 job then I wouldn't care as much and I wouldn't stress as much. You just can't stress out about a job that you don't care about. Is that the best thing for a company? How successful can a company be when all the employees don't care?

Part discusses the need for companies to take greater responsibility for employee job burnout. It mentions that in the current economic environment employee burnout often is considered a relatively insignificant, individual problem that needs to be handled through the employee's assistance programs. And besides there are plenty of employee where he came from. This article calls that type of thinking is
wrong, shortsighted, and ultimately can lead to an organization’s downfall.
I think it is true... as burnt out (or close to) as I think I am I see other employees that are even further down the line. I think asking these already stressed and often overworked employees to take time off to attend a voluntary assistance program and most likely have more work piling up for them when they return is ridiculous. Employee burnout needs to be addressed as a company wide problem and take steps to identify the causes and prevent it in the first place. From the article:
The bottom line is that an organization should care about and take steps to prevent job burnout if it wants a healthy bottom line long-term.

[Via: slashdot.com]


Flash on your desktop
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9/27/2005 10:01:00 AM

The other day while visiting the omni’s blog I noticed a really cool flash clock on the right hand side of her website (now removed out of courtesy to our CPU impaired brothers). I thought it would be cool to have that on my desktop. It is actually quite easy to add web pages or parts of web pages to your desktop in win 2000 or XP. All you need to do is create a HTML file and add it to your active desktop (I’ll show how to do that in a minute). So while viewing the omni’s website I selected View -> Page Source and scanned through the extremely tidy HTML (women have to keep everything clean don’t they) until I found the embed tag for the flash file. It would be easy enough to copy this HTML word for word (or should I say tag for tag) and place it on my desktop. However, if you do this the flash file itself will need to be loaded from the original website every time you boot. This can be very annoying if you are behind a firewall that requires authentications and is considered rude to the site hosting the content as you are using their server’s bandwidth. So the best option is to download your own copy. I noticed that the HTML contained the following text:

<!-- Get your own clock/calendar FREE at
http://ptnuke.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=132 -->

But either my Portuguese is really bad or the files are missing (Actually my Portuguese is non-existent and the files appear to be missing). So the next option is to download the flash file directly from the source. Unfortunately, unlike images, you cannot right click to download flash files directly from a webpage. In general to download flash files you have two options:
  1. In some browsers (not IE) you can copy the file URL into your toolbar, hit enter to load it, and then select File -> Save page as... to save the flash file to your hard drive.
  2. You can also create a simple HTML file that contains a single link to the flash file. Open that page in your browser and right click on the link and select Save Target As...
In this case I have already done all the foot work so you can just download it from here (use right click, Save Target As...). Now that you have the flash file somewhere on your hard drive you need to create a simple HTML file that contains the embed tag to invoke the flash player. This is just a matter of copying and pasting the code from the HTML source file (in this case omni’s code, let’s hope she doesn’t mind) and changing the source URL to be our local copy. Again I can save you some time if you just copy and paste the code I already created:

<body bgcolor="white">
<!-- Get your own clock/calendar FREE at
http://ptnuke.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=132 -->
<embed src="clockcalendar.swf" width="210" height="225" quality="high"
type="application/x-shockwave-flash" bgcolor="#ffffff"></embed>

Save this text to an .html file on your computer in the same directory as the clockcalendar.swf you downloaded earlier. Notice that you can also change the two bgcolor tags to match your background.

Now to get the file onto your desktop will depend on the operating system you are using:

  1. Right click on your desktop and select Properties.
  2. In the Display Properties box that appears select the Desktop tab the Customize Desktop...
  3. In the new Desktop Items dialog select the Web tab then new.
  4. Now you can enter the path of the HTML file we created above or use the browse to find the file. You may have the urge to select the clockcalendar.swf file directly but that wont work.
  5. The item will then appear on your background. Click on the items border to move and resize the window however you like.

For some reason it is easier to add a desktop item in Win2000. Right click on your desktop and select Active Desktop -> New Desktop Item. You will now be presented with the New Desktop item dialog. Now you can follow steps 4-5 above. If you see anything in addition to the clock that you don't want on your desktop (your home page is displayed by default) just right click on your desktop and select Active Desktop and unselect the items you don't want from the bottom.

NO deaths greatly exaggerated
Posted Monday, September 26, 2005 9/26/2005 11:07:00 AM

Over the last several weeks many websites and the main stream media have been running multiple stories on the Katrina rescues and aftermath. The reports of rape, murder, and piles of bodies at the Superdome and the Convention Center were extremely disturbing. However, now that the horror stories have stoped and recovery has started where is the news? Well, apparently these sites are mute for a reason... because they were all duped. While the conditions in New Orleans were horrible beyond anything I have ever experienced the rumors of deaths and violence have been greatly exaggerated. This article posted at NOLA.com give great details of the reality found in the aftermath. No evidence of murdered babies and not the rumored hundreds of bodies. Will major websites and the main stream media take responsibility and clear up the disinformation? We'll see... we may have to leave it to the bloggers that don't have to save face:

Deaths greatly exaggerated in New Orleans
exaggerated crime in katrina aftermath
Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated: Widely reported attacks false or unsubstantiated
Exaggerated reporting on the SuperDome in N.O.?

[Edit: I removed a reference to a particular website. This article was not about them in particular but directed at the misinformation sources in general.]

Battlestar Galactica Season Finale
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2005 9/24/2005 06:20:00 PM

So last night was the season finale of . What do I think? Actually I’m not quite sure yet. This season finale had to be the most intense (or should I say tense) cliff hanger I’ve ever seen. This episode itself was excellent. That was a good surprise compared to the last two or three that sort of sucked. The whole episode left me in a sort of post-traumatic state. Things got really screwed up, everything we know about the pattern of life on Battlestar has changed, and right when things are coming to a head… To Be Continued. Sure it was successful at what it was intended to do but to leave us (me) hanging when the situation is in such a state is almost torture. Maybe I’m being over dramatic, after all it is just a show, but it is really going to leave me in an uncomfortable state for the next 4 months until next season. In other words the season finale was great but at the same time I fracking hate it!

In other Battlestar news the show has been selected as the #2 best Sci-Fi show of all time by Boston.com.

My blog defiles the pages of the pharyngula and omniverse
Posted 9/24/2005 01:04:00 AM

I just noticed (ok... I noticed a few hours ago, stop nit-picking!) that my blog is listed as a "Weblogs of the Week" over at pharyngula.org. In the famous (slightly modified) words of Wayne and Garth....
[I'm] not worthy! [I'm] not worthy! [I'm] not worthy!

I was wondering why my daily visits went from around 5 to over 30 in the last few days. And I thought it was all due to omni's link. Wow, it really looks like this blogging thing is paying off. I'm going to be rich any time now. Watch out Bill Gates I'm coming for you!

All kidding aside thanks to pharyngula and the not-quite-opposite end of the spectrum but kinda-kitty-cornered ominverse.

My first meme (how cute!)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2005 9/23/2005 06:42:00 PM

I saw this meme on pharyngula.org and thought I would participate just for the fun of it. But don't worry teh risk of falling into meme hell is slight.

Meme rules:
1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
It happens to be my most popular post: here.
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
I could setup the application just fine (see instructions here) but for some reason I could never get the runtime debugging to work.

Interesting. Most popular post and the root of the problem. Creepy!

ING Direct Orange Savings Account
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 9/22/2005 04:41:00 PM

I recently signed up for an ING Orange Savings Account savings account, made an easy $25, and am now receiving 3.30% 3.40% interest on my savings. In case you don’t know about the ING Orange Savings let me explain. ING is a regular FDIC-insured federally chartered savings bank but there are no branches. Your account gets linked to up to your regular checking account(s) allowing you electronically transfer money in and out via online banking just like you would with any other bank account that has online banking. Because ING does not have any branches their interest rate is much higher then traditional banks. The interest rate is currently 3.30% 3.40% at ING vs. 0.5% at BofA and CitiBank and 0.25%-1.01% at Wells Fargo. If you want read more opinions you can check out the ING Epinions page.

If you want to sign up for an account you can do it directly through the ING direct website but to earn the free $25 you need to be referred. If you would like a referral from me please contact me your first name, last name, and email address.

[Edit: For the sake of full disclosure I should point out that I will also receive $10 if you sign-up through me. However, that in no way influenced my opinion of ING. It may have encouraged me to post it rather then just spreading the word verbally but my opinion is uninfluenced.]

[Edit #2: The ING Orange Savings Account savings account is now at 3.40% as of 9/22/05]

Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 9/19/2005 11:34:00 AM

Avast, me hearties! It be international talk like a pirate day!

What is a pirate’s favorite letter? It be Arrr!

Robertson Blames Hurricane on Choice of Ellen Degeneres to Host Emmys
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2005 9/17/2005 08:44:00 PM

In a follow-up to my previous articles on hurricane Katrina and Pat Robertson (here and here) is this article in the prestigious news site Dateline: Hollywood. According to the article Robertson is now blaming Katrina on the choice of Ellen Degeneres to host the Emmy Awards. He has a point this time... he notes that last time Degeneres was chosen to host the Emmys, in 2001, the September 11 terrorism attacks took place shortly before the ceremony. We all know that post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) is one of the most profound logical arguments known to man.

By the way in case you don't get it Dateline: Hollywood is a satire site. Apparently many people didn't get it. But I really don't blame them with Pat's track record. If you want to read some of his memorable quotes please look here. Some of the best:

Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.
Many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many were homosexuals - the two things seem to go together
I know one man who was impotent who gave AIDS to his wife and the only thing they did was kiss

[Via: BoingBoing]


Tongue-eating bug found in fish
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2005 9/15/2005 08:36:00 PM

This is a very bizarre news story about a insect that eats the tongue of a fish down to a stub, then attaches itself to become a replacement. Sounds like Sci-Fi!

[Via: http://www.boingboing.net/]


Don't let context menu get out of control
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 9/12/2005 10:55:00 PM

In MS Windows when you right click on a file or folder you are presented with what they call a context menu. The menu contains many useful tools that can be evoked on the file you have selected. The “copy to folder” and “send to” are some good uses of the context menu. IN addition many programs you install add new items to the context menu. Some of these are useful but more often then not they are useless additions that don’t seam easily disabled. Pretty soon you can have two dozen useless items on the menu that not only take too much room but also can create a huge delay before windows displays the context menu. Recently my context menu became so cluttered that right clicking on a file made me wait a good 30 seconds. Unacceptable when all you want to do is get the properties of a file. So I figured I’d go through and delete all the unused context menu items for example “escuche in winamp”… don’t need that one.

You can try removing the items from the register manually (see here for instructions). This works but takes time and there is always the prospect of a catastrophic failure they always warn you about before editing the registry. Thanks to Google I found a better solution. I found a simple little application called Context Menu Editor by a freeware developer BaxterSoft, LLC. With this application you can easily remove items form the file context menu (when you right click on a file), the folder context menu (when you r-click on a folder) and from the IE context menu (when you right click on a webpage viewed in IE). You simply select the menu item, view the information to make sure that is the one you want to delete, and hit delete. All done. The program is simple but works well for what it does. However, for some reason the installation program doesn’t add any listing to the start menu so you’ll have to find the executable in file explorer. I wouldn’t mine seeing a new version that has undo feature.

If you need more you can also check out ShellExView. ShellExView is similar to Context Menu Editor but on a much broader level. ShellExView doesn’t just show items in the file, folder, and IF context menus but all shell extensions on your computer. This is nice but it actually becomes more difficult to find the items that you want to remove. ShellExView installs nicely, can restore items disabled, and has a reporting feature. All very nice but not a simple as Context Menu Editor and a bit of overkill for what I needed in my case. I suggest you give Context Menu Editor a try first and go to ShellExView if you need something more powerful.

Pat Robertson blames Katrina on...
Posted Friday, September 02, 2005 9/02/2005 03:53:00 PM

Yesterday I mentioned that Pat Robertson blamed hurricanes in Florida on gays (or more correctly Florida's support of gays). Well, it seams that he is now blaming Katrina on a single person in particular. You'll be surprised who it is.

[Via: www.ridingsun.com]


Katrina was caused by....
Posted Thursday, September 01, 2005 9/01/2005 10:23:00 PM

I think it may be a natural response. But like many other natural feelings (like the strong urge to steal children's candy when it looks better then your slim fast) it is one that needs to be avoided. I talking about the strong desire to blame natural disasters on someone (or something). I think we all seek answers after a major event. We want to know why, how can this happen, how can we prevent this next time. Unfortunately sometimes we jump to conclusions that are simply poor and sometimes dangerous.

In the wake of we are all shocked and horrified. The 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Tsunami's, Columbia, and now this (did I miss any?). The 2000's are turning out to be a tough millennium. But do we really have to blame Katrina on something?

Director of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowment's research center appears to be saying that Katrina is punishment for not believing in Islam.

In 1998 Pat Robertson said "hurricanes and other natural disasters would sweep down on Orlando, Fla., because gay men and lesbians were flocking to Disney World on special "gay days." Well, all I can say is that his Operation Blessing charity is not getting my donation. Read about use of operation blessing's resourse to support Pat's diamond mine.

Maybe the closest is RKF Jr. He blames global warming. Although global warming probably played a factor in the hurricanes this season he specifically George Bush, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and the Republican Party for their failure to support the Kyoto protocol. Which you should know is a farce and that humans are not causing global warming.

The truth is that Katrina is an extremely unfortunate event that is part of a natural waether cycle. Maybe if we spent more time learning from previous events rather then attempting to place blame we could have reduced the impact of this hurricane.

What can I do?
You should first look into donating through your companies if possible. Most major corporations offer matching funds for charitable donations.
Donate to organizations like the RedCross or others.
Click here to offer free housing to those who so desperately need it.

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