Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I've been remiss in posting about this and figured it was time to do so...

I joined the beta version of this site a few months back and they've really been upping their game and making improvements and enhancements to both the website and iPhone application and I think everyone should sign up. Here's how it works...

You go to a restaurant or some public place serving food, take a photo of the specific dish you got, upload the photo to the site, write a little review (if you'd like) and then others can search for that specific dish (let's say, spicy tuna roll) or set a location (say, Huntington Beach, CA) and search for a food type (like sushi) or restaurant (like Tuna Town) or just search for all foods near them. Then when you find what you're looking for you can see an actual photo of the food and hopefully get an honest review of it and the restaurant. Users can also "NOM" a food, indicating it's one of their favorite foods and that they recommend it to other users and you can NOM other foods you've had though did not post an actual spotting of that food. You start with 10 NOM's and earn the ability to NOM more foods as you post more foods; it's pretty fun.

iPhone users have the added convenience of being able to upload photos and reviews directly from their phone, NOM foods and basically do everything the website allows but with the added convenience of being mobile; it's really slick. Restaurant information is available as well as tying into Google Maps in order to help you contact and find the place a food was spotted as well as see push pins on a map of all places near you that where food has been spotted.

It's super fun to see some of the foods that are posted from all over the world and get inspired to try something new or try a restaurant you'd heard of but never knew anyone that had tried it. If this picks up in popularity (if volume of food spottings and reviews is any indicator, it already has) then it has the ability to be an incredibly useful guide as you could go to a restaurant and see photos of dozens of dishes they have to offer and read unbiased reviews, all before the waiter even drops off a menu.

So, add something to the community and make discovering great food a super fun and simple process!

Sign up for free to become a Foodspotter...


iPhone application (opens a link in iTunes)

YouTube Tuesday: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN.....

Besides Journey's "Separate Ways" is there a song, video and band that you'd put in the music time capsule as the entry for 80's hair band more fitting than The Final Countdown by Europe? I didn't think so. Here's what The Final Countdown has got in this awesomely, awesome video:

  • BIG hair
  • BIG outfits
  • Androgynous lead singer
  • The "goofy" band member, in this case the drummer with his oh-so-silly running shorts and bandanna
  • Synthesizers
  • Makeup
  • High school A/V Club quality video effects
  • Empowering lyrics and chord progressions
  • Pyrotechnics
  • 50+ piece drum kit
  • Extremely confusing "story" to the video
  • Gratuitous live concert footage
  • Aerial band shots on the roof, taken from a helicopter
  • Groupies
  • EPIC guitar solo, with accompanying "lead guitar face"
  • Band members holding gold albums for the press
If you find a better entry for the 80's hair band video to put in the time capsule, bring it...until then, it's The Final Countdown...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Holy sh*t I went to the greatest basketball school EVER

I'm done mourning KU's untimely loss. I'm moving on and after some choice comments from the ever classy MU fans and other people who just love to hate on KU at every misstep, I needed something to pick me up; remind me of how good great KU really is. So, I started digging around...

Here are some facts taken from the Wikipedia entry for KU Men's Basketball. If there was ever any doubt that KU is THE blue-blooded, undisputed alpha dog of NCAA Men's college basketball, just read this and if you're still not convinced then you're an idiot. In no particular order of importance with some pretty unbelievable facts highlighted for your convenience...
  • Kansas leads Division I in all-time in conference titles with 53 in 103 years of conference play
  • In the last two decades (ending with the 2009-2010 season), no team won more games than the Jayhawks, who won 571 games
  • KU has the longest current streak of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances with 21
 sidenote: The NCAA Tournament was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and was the brainchild of coach Phog Allen (you're welcome, college basketball fans)
  • Since the NCAA began seeding the tournament in 1979, KU has never been lower than an 8 seed (their average seed is a 3) and since that time KU has only missed the tournament 5 times
  • Second-longest current streak of winning seasons, at 27
  • First among Division I schools in winning seasons, conference championships and first-team All Americans
  • Second in wins with 2003
  • First in NCAA history with 91 winning seasons.
  • KU has had the fewest head coaches (eight) of any program that has been around 100 or more years (the other "blue bloods" with 100+ year history: KY has had 22, UCLA 12 and UNC 18)
  • They have reached the Final Four under more head coaches (six) than any other program in the nation
  • Every head coach at Kansas since the inception of the NCAA Tournament has led the program to the Final Four
  • Kansas has had four head coaches inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, more than any other program in the nation.
  • Current longest home court wining streak @ 59
  • 30 McDonald's All Americans
  • 14 Academic All Americans
  • 6 National Player of the Year honors
  • 13 Final Four appearances
  • 5 National Championships
Oh and it bears mention that KU is a magnet for college basketball coaching legends. Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp (2 of the greatest, coaches of all time) played @ KU under Phog Allen along with Dutch Lonborg, and Ralph Miller, all of whom have been inducted as coaches to the National Basketball Hall of Fame. In that regard, I guess Kentucky and UNC owe KU a pretty giant THANK YOU (they are, after all, the #1 and #3 winningest programs in NCAA history due mostly to the efforts of Rupp and Smith, respectively). How's this for small world: John Wooden helped build Memorial Stadium in 1929 after being recruited by Phog Allen to play @ KU. Oh and Larry Brown is the only coach to have won a championship in both the NCAA and NBA.

There you have it. Super stoked to be a Jayhawk it never ceases to amaze me at the excellence and tradition of Kansas Basketball.

Love for KU, as forged by playing in Basketball Band

There are 4 things that I truly love in this world:

My Family
The University of Kansas, most notably KU Basketball

I don't expect anybody to ever understand the last one on that list. There's a bond that was forged back in 1995 that continues as strong--if not stronger--to this day.

You see, every year I was @ KU I was in the Men's Basketball Band. I played at every home basketball game and traveled with the band to the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournaments each year. I was spoiled. I came to expect that we would go to The Dance and with the exception of maybe 1 year KU was one of the 3-4 teams that the experts had picked to make a run to the Final Four. We never made the Final Four. In fact, in all but 1 year, KU was bounced in the round of 8 or earlier. So, you might say that the entire basketball experience was a disappointment but it was anything but. I'm a big "enjoy the journey, not the destination" sort of guy and the journey was filled with some pretty incredible moments that solidified my love for the University and the tradition of KU Basketball.

After a stinging loss to Rhode Island, their band had just finished playing some song and were celebrating wildly and we began to play our Alma Mater. About 3/4 through the song Rhode Island's band began playing some song (you're supposed to alternate playing songs); a shitty arrangement of an even shittier 70's or 80's uptempo tune, like Celebrate by Kool and the Gang. When we had finished and began packing our stuff I stormed to the other side of the court and got in the director's face and said "you're a f*cking no class asshole and you, your band and your University can go to hell..." He barked back at me and didn't think it was such a big deal to interrupt us during our alma mater and said I was out of line and their interruption showed no disrespect, which pretty much proved my point. After a generous middle finger and a few more pleasantries exchanged with him and other Rhode Island band folk I went back to mourn the loss and disappointment.

After that same loss I was standing with the rest of the band in the tunnel underneath the stands and Roy Williams exited the press room, tears flowing (as had become a common fixture of Roy Williams in the NCAA Tournament) and he walked towards us and shook our hands and as he shook my hand he looked me straight in the eyes with extreme sorrow and said "I'm sorry I let you down..." Jesus. Here's this guy who I looked up to as one of the greatest college coaches ever and he's sorry he let me down? Ugh...that was heavy.

Several years later when Roy bailed on KU to leave for UNC days after our loss in the national championship game to Syracuse, I wrote him a letter and told him that this time I was sorry he let me down. That's the kind of love and passion I have for Kansas Basketball...

In some way--large or small--I felt like a part of the tradition of the excellence that is KU Basketball and the University. I played a role in making the basketball experience a memorable one for each and every one of those players, coaches and fans. Allen Fieldhouse is a sort of place of worship for me. There were some incredible memories in that building, some tears of joy and sorrow and a lot of love shared by the rest of the people that were a part of that tradition both on and off the court, especially the countless friendships forged through playing in bball band.

When KU won the National Championship in 2008 I cried my brains out. Why? Because I was a part of that tradition. I helped make KU what it was in 2008 (however minuscule my impact may have been) and all my love and devotion to KU that had gone unfulfilled with a National Championship while I was there had finally come to fruition. I'd love to win that thing every year but even just winning it that 1 time was unbelievably special.

For all those reasons and hundreds more to list, I take anything KU very personally. Their loss in the 2nd round this past weekend was extremely difficult to handle. They were so good. They were hands down the best team @ KU in the past 15 years I've been a Jayhawk and head and shoulders better than any other team in the NCAA. Are they any worse of a team now? No way. The NCAA Tournament proves that the "best" team rarely wins. I'm extremely disappointed with their effort and that's what hurts. Had they played like they did in all but maybe 2 or 3 games this year there's not a team in the NCAA that can touch them. Sadly, they were out-hustled and outplayed by a team with nothing to lose and an incredible amount of luck on their side, which scrappy teams like UNI need to win games and I applaud them for their efforts; they deserved to win. It wasn't KU's day, plain and simple, and it came at the most inopportune time.

So, for all the KU haters out there... Ya know what: you're right that KU totally screwed the pooch; have your fun. But realize in the process that you're proving you're no different than Rhode Island's band: classless. Oh don't get me wrong, I loathe MU but I save that for when we meet. I'll talk all the shit I can when KU/MU meet or we play some other rival but any other time I'll keep my mouth shut, save for the funny harmless little joke here and there...but no hate. Hell, every year during the NCAA's I root for ALL Big 12 teams and their success until we meet (including MU); then I'm ready to kick your ass. We're all on the same team (Big 12) and what's the point in rooting for some other team's demise if you're not playing them?

I guess maybe I hold KU to a higher standard; one that's respectful of rivals, that doesn't engage in pointless mockery and hate for the purpose of being...well, hateful. KU always has and always will be the good guy and the good guy knows when his opponent is defeated and let's them stew in their misery, alone. I root FOR KU not against MU or some other team; that's a big distinction of school pride that I think is lost on many people out there and that's too bad. There's a finite amount of energy out there, so why waste it on all the negativity?

In the end, I'm proud to be a Jayhawk; to be part of a tradition of excellence that's enviable enough that rivals and jealous folks feel it necessary to point out at every misstep that you failed, whilst ignoring their own traditions of mediocrity, jealousy and hate. It was a really fun season to watch with an extremely disappointing ending but that's how it goes sometimes. I'm excited for next year and every year of KU Basketball, no matter the expectations or outcome, because KU Basketball is more than just X's and O's...it's all about LOVE.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tradezilla Part 4: It's ALIVE

 Hi. My name is Tradezilla and I'll be your bad-ass trading machine today.

With Tradezilla assembled and a quick double check of all the connections and power hookups all set it was go time: will it start?

I plug it into the wall and have the side of the case off to monitor what goes down as I flip the switch. I partly wondered if this was a good idea as stuff might come flying off or electric currents may arc wildly from a shorted wire like a Tesla machine.

Much to my excitement (and maybe even disappointment) it started up without issue. Part of me was hoping for a big old problem I'd have to spend hours fixing, but I got nothing. Actually it did pop up the black/white screen informing me that there was a problem with the CMOS settings. Pressing F1 took me to the BIOS and I made an adjustment to the system clock, saved the changes and exited.

It rebooted, again, and this time gave me the POST beep indicating that the MoBo was working properly and the monitor went black and simply said:

"Please insert operating system into boot drive."

That's it. That's it? I insert the Windows 7 disk, and about 10 minutes later I'm in Internet Explorer testing out my Internet connection, which worked without any problems?

There has to be something wrong, right? Nope. The whole process was strikingly simply and effortless. Maybe I got lucky, maybe I'm good; whatever it is I just built a computer in a couple hours and had it fully operational within 15 minutes of pressing the power button. The last XP install I did took 3-4x longer and I'm not sure if this quick install is due to Windows 7 or the hardware I'm using...probably a combo of both.

What's even better about this build is what I got and what it cost. Tradezilla cost me $718.15 including tax/shipping and bear in mind that I used my dual video card and an extra HDD from my old Dell.

I went to Dell and built a Core i7-920 with 6GB of RAM and the cheapest HDD and video card I could find and it came out to $1,133.14 with tax and shipping. Granted, this machine does include a 500GB HDD so there's some value there but at the same time it includes a basic single-output video card which is a step down.

Total savings: $414.99

What Tradezilla is missing vs. the aforementioned Dell:

 - 1-year warranty with Dell
 - Anti-virus software that cannot be removed
 - Various bloatware installed by Dell to run certain background programs and such
 - Proprietary motherboard and PSU, not easily/cheaply replaceable

Would I recommend building a computer to others? Absolutely! Are you kidding me? Look at how much money was saved and what I'm missing by building my own. Bear in mind that I DO have warranties for all the individual components of similar length as what Dell was offering but the difficulty comes in diagnosing the problems and getting the appropriate manufacturer to provide service. If you're a simple home user with no technical knowledge and call a friend or relative to diagnose error messages and such then this route isn't for you. You DO need to have some technical wherewithal and ability to do simple troubleshooting and such as you build and install stuff but that's it; no engineering degree required. It's a fun, very rewarding process and I'll be building all my PC's from now on.

Down the line I'll discuss the improvements in performance and such versus the old Dell but suffice it to say: Tradezilla is a total effing BEAST :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tradezilla Part 3: The Build

With all the parts here, it's time to build Tradezilla.
The ingredients necessary to make this dish

I didn't have too much in the way of concern going into the build as the entire process is pretty simple.

Virgin MoBo

First off, I installed the CPU into the socket on the motherboard. This was actually a little sketchy. The pins on the CPU (and there are a TON of them) don't sink into anything just they just press against and make contact with the socket. When you secure the CPU to the MoBo the device holding it down has a boatload of tension on it and as you swing the arm into the hook to hold it down all you can think is "how the hell is this right?!" But, it all worked out in the end.

Next up, CPU fan. Pretty easy. Although it makes solid contact with the head of the CPU it doesn't require as much effort in the way of connecting it to the MoBo, which I found surprising.

Onto the RAM. It's funny how much easier RAM can be installed when you're not digging your hands into a case like a surgeon reaching into a chest cavity.

Here's the completed MoBo, mofos...

OK, here's where we ran into the only problem I had with assembly: attaching MoBo to the case. I was an idiot and forgot to install the I/O panel on the back of the case so after spending 10 minutes trying to screw in a few screws that were just impossibly difficult to access I had to rip the whole thing out and do it again. Wah wah...

Power supply slid into place easily and here comes the fun part: attaching all the power leads. Finding the leads isn't the issue, getting the power to the leads with a bottom mounted PSU is where it got interesting. I sort of expected this as power supplies are normally installed on the top of the case and the power connectors on the MoBo assume this as well but with the bottom mounted PSU a couple of the cords had to be stretched out quite a bit. In the end it all worked out; w00t.

Optical drive, HDD were the last things installed and once those were in it was time to see if this thing works or is one of the most expensive paper-weights I've ever created (cuz there HAVE been other DIY jobs go awry...)

All the ingredients in the bowl...time to throw it into the oven and see if it cooks (lame, but effective analogy)

Last Tradezilla build post forthcoming...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: This Too Shall Pass

OK Go! Makes super awesome videos. Check out their latest for This Too Shall Pass in which they build a horribly complicated, yet awesome, Rube Goldberg machine.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Tradezilla Part 2: The Stuff

Here's a list of the items that I'm using to build Tradezilla.



1x - Intel Core i7 920 Quad-Core @ 2.66GHz

This processor is beast. It's quad-core and takes advantage of Intel's Hyperthreading technology so the least of my concerns in any task should be processing power. There are other processors out there I could go with to use on the motherboard I'm using but this one was a steal on sale for $200 and is widely regarded as the greatest value in the Intel lineup, if not on either platform. I went with Intel architecture because...well, I don't know why exactly. Every computer I have ever owned has been Intel (including the Macs) so I guess I'm just an Intel guy for life.


1x - ASRock X58 Extreme LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX

I chose this MoBo for several reasons. First, it was very highly rated/reviewed from many sources. It's an "entry-level" board but it's solidly built and some of the features it offers are only found on higher end boards which leads me to decision #2: price. I don't need a MoBo with all sorts of features that make it fantastic for overclocking and I have very limited I/O needs so some of the features found on boards well above this price point were a complete waste and I opted to budget the savings elsewhere.


3x - OCZ Gold Tri Channel PC10666 DDR3 Memory - 1333MHz, (2GB sticks, so 6GB total)

I've used OCZ stuff in the past and haven't had any issue and it's some of the cheapest RAM out there so it was the logical choice. There are faster speeds of memory but triple-channel DDR3 @ 1333MHz is basically twice as fast as I'm running right now, and 2x more RAM in total.

Graphics Card

1x - XFX GeForce 7600 GS / 256MB GDDR2

Part of the way I'm keeping the cost of Tradezilla down is by cannibalizing a couple parts from my current trading machine. One of the key parts I'm using is the dual-DVI video card (I have the OEM card which I will be putting back in that machine). It's nothing fancy, it just has dual-DVI outputs for my monitors. In the future I may add another dual card as the MoBo has 3 PCIe x16 slots on in, which means that I could theoretically run a 24 monitor setup (3x cards with 8 outputs) but even I can agree that's a bit overkill...for now :)

Hard Disk Drive

1x - Western Digital Caviar SE WD3200JD 320GB

This is another part I'm cannibalizing from the current trading machine. It has dual HDD's in it and by taking this one (currently used as a backup, which is now obsolete since the Time Capsule handles backups) the current machine will still be operational.

Optical Drive
1x - LG GH22NS40 DVD Writer

Past installing the OS, I don't ever see me using this drive. All the software I use is downloaded from the vendors and any ripping/burning of CD's and DVD's is accomplished here on the iMac mothership. I went with cheap and it just happened to be highly rated; bonus.


1x - Thermaltake V3 Black Edition Mid Tower

I had a few criteria when selecting a case:
1. Quality
2. Low price
3. Don't look like a computer gamer's wet-dream

This case satisfies all 3 criteria. It looks really nice/professional and it's from a very good name. It's a bit unorthodox as the power supply mounts at the bottom for better cooling and doesn't make the machine top heavy, so we'll see how that works with the build-out; might have issues with cable length. However, it has one feature that I will be changing. The 120mm fan at the rear of the case has blue LED lights on it, which I find extremely annoying. Thankfully, fans are dirt cheap so I'll just drop $5 and get one that won't look like I'm trying to start a dance party in the office.

Power Supply Unit

1x - Coolmax 500-Watt Modular Power Supply

My homeboy Kuka recommended a modular power supply as you can pick and choose which power cables you need and leave the rest off. This assists in not cluttering up the case with unused wires and provides a much smoother/cleaner airflow which assists in cooling. I calculated the minimum power requirements for this system and the most I could come up with by maxing the output of the components and such was 233 watts. So, 500W should be plenty. It was nicely priced and should I need to upgrade down the line it won't be a big loss.

Operating System

1x - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit

This was sort of a no-brainer. I have no real issues with XP other than the fact it downloads updates constantly and there is a 64-bit version of XP out there but I figured if I'm going for top of the line I should dabble in Microsoft's newest/best OS. It's 64-bit, rather than 32, which is fantastic. All the trading software I use is compatible with Win7, it will run faster, more efficiently and really take advantage of the hardware/architecture it's operating within. Win7 is basically what MSFT wanted Vista to be, which in time I'm sure will be known as Windows Me 2.0...and if you know anything about OS's you know that's a pretty shameful honor.


There may be little things here and there I'll have to get like extension cables if the placement of the power supply at the bottom poses a problem, extra case fans and such but for now before I start assembling everything this is it; this is the "meat" of Tradezilla. You technically wouldn't "need" anything else to build a machine and the components chosen here are all exactly what I want/need.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Tradezilla Part 1: The 5 W's

OK, let's do this!

Project codename: TRADEZILLA


Well, I noticed a month ago or so that the charting was lagging BIG TIME on my current trading machine, like when the markets are really humming along and the volume is flying I might be 4-5 ticks and several bars behind what my execution software would display. They both get the same data from the exchanges but since the execution software is not charting/processing that data in any way, it's obviously to be trusted as the "real" price. I could remedy this by not charting as many instruments, chart resolutions and such but that sort of defeats the purpose of trading/monitoring multiple markets. Grated, this only happens in extreme circumstances and with some proper housecleaning and habits on the current trading machine (like not having tons of charts open at once) I could probably get by just fine 90% of the time. But, by upgrading my hardware I would see a quantifiable increase in performance and decrease in things like lag and probably be able to get by 99% of the time and have a platform that will let me grow and accomplish more tasks that I just cannot currently accomplish with my current setup.


We'll get into the specific components in a later post, but this is what the machine is going to be built around.

Intel Core i7 920 Quad-Core @ 2.66GHz

The Core i7 is basically the highest end "mainstream" processor that Intel makes, built on similar architecture to their highest end chips the Xeons which are used for servers and other processor intensive applications. This processor is built on the LGA1366 processor interface, which is where Intel is dumping all of their consumer product development and this processor is actually the "base model" processor built on the LGA1366 architecture. That's good because there is a clear upgrade path to follow including the forthcoming hex-core processors. I almost went with a Core i5 but the problem with that processor was that it maxed out at a slightly slower Core i7 processor built on a different architecture so there really wasn't an upgrade path to speak of. Spend about $100 more for a faster processor and a clear upgrade path? I think the decision was a no-brainer...


Now. Like, I started this project yesterday by acquiring a case, processor and power supply sort of NOW! The motherboard, RAM, operating system and optical drive were ordered today. I hope to have the project complete within a couple weeks and while I want it done ASAP I'd rather take my time and do it right and since I already have a machine that works pretty well there's no urgency.


George Bush. No, me you fools! I'm building it with the help and support of 100's of 1000's of other homebrew enthusiasts out there that can offer help and advice along the way.


Deleware...street! OH!! Man, you totally fell for that one. I got you good blog readers...

It might be a couple days until I post again on TRADEZILLA as I'd like to have all the components here and get a group shot before we assemble everything. So hang loose and we'll talk more homebrew PC's shortly...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Who needs Dell?

First off, hey everybody. I haven't been blogging as of late, but you knew that. It's been a very busy/exciting time for me and while I have lots to talk about I've just not made the time to do it on here...but that will soon change. Anyway...

I'm fed up with Dell, people. Let me explain...

A little over a month ago I ordered a new computer from Dell. This machine was going to replace my current trading setup as I'm running into limitations that just cannot be addressed by throwing more RAM in the box and wiping the drive of all the bloatware and such; there are legitimate bottlenecks and constraints on what it can do and what I need it to do. It literally took 4 attempts (3 online and 1 on the phone) to place the order and the phone call involved no less than 13 transfers and 1.5 hours of my time. This was the beginning of the end of my relationship with Dell; a relationship that has spanned 15 years and at least 8 computers, maybe more.

So, the order was finally placed with an estimated delivery date of 2/25. Well, 2/25 comes and the date is pushed to 3/4. 3/4 comes and the date is pushed to 3/11, no explanation offered by Dell. In order to keep the order active I had to tell them to move forward or else cancel the order. After pondering the whole situation for a while I came up with the difficult decision.

I broke up with Dell. Their customer service during this process was abhorrent and this was NOT the same Dell I fell in love with 15 years ago; quite divergent, actually. But, I think the thing that pissed me off the most was the creation of the computer I wanted/needed. It was impossible. I had a list of items I wanted and didn't want and I could not create it no matter how hard I tried, what avenue I used, who I spoke to. Dell force-feeds you what they think you want based not on the customer desires but on things such as profit margin, availability of components, partnerships, etc. I'll save the conspiracy theory talk but to sum it up, Dell was just NOT a fit for me anymore.

That's it. No more Dell. The problem still remains that I need a new trading machine, so what am I gonna do? To put it simply: I'm going rogue; a maverick, off the radar. I am building my first PC. This is simultaneously super exciting and scary as hell. But, this way I will be building EXACTLY what I want with no compromises whatsoever.

Details of the build are forthcoming and I'll be documenting the entire project from start to finish and figure this is a good way to get me back into the blogging groove...

OK, next time we'll detail what I'm building and kick this thing off proper-like!