Friday, 22 April 2005

So, tonight's a special Geek Dinner, there's also a monthly Portland Nerd Dinner, and next week at the PADNUG meeting (that's Portland Area .NET Users Group), my coworkers Scott and Patrick are teaming up to present on "Continuous Integration for .NET" to attendees:

"Continuous Integration is more than just a fad; it's darn near required to survive anymore. Join Patrick Cauldwell and Scott Hanselman as they talk about one of Corillian's product's build processes. They will explore NUnit, NAnt, custom NAnt Tasks, automatic reporting of errors, and unit test failures as well as Cruise Control.NET which can enable you to create an Enterprise Wide Build Dashboard for all the pointy-haired bosses to oogle at. It'll be fun, informative, and fast pace."

Portland Community College Auditorium
CAPITAL Center, Room 1508
18640 NW Walker Rd.
Beaverton, OR 97006

There's chat time and free pizza at 6:00 pm. The meeting and presentation begins at 6:30 pm.

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Friday, 22 April 2005 06:53:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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My friend Chris Pirillo and his lovely fiance Ponzi will be in town this evening, and Alex has put together a Geek Dinner this evening here in Portland. Head for Northwest and join us/them for a geeky get together:

What: Geek Dinner in Portland
Date: Friday, April 22nd
Time: 6pm
Where: Blue Moon - 432 N.W. 21st, Portland
Who is Welcome: Everyone!

Bring your friends and digital cameras, let's hang out and be - well - geeks, I guess.

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Geek Out | Random Stuff
Friday, 22 April 2005 06:31:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 21 April 2005

Ever need access to a SMTP server so you can send email when you're out doing the mobile computing thing?

Use GMail: Set your email client to drop outbound mail to, and use your gmail login credentials. It even supports using an SSL connection, if you like.

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Thursday, 21 April 2005 22:10:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Mindjet1The Mindjet team, the people who create and publish the MindManager software that can be so useful for organizing thoughts, ideas and plans, recently started blogging:

"The Mindjet team is now blogging! Visit our new Mindjet blog at: to read and comment on regularly updated discussions about our journey through the world of visualizing information. Gain insight into Mindjet's goals and read featured commentary from the diverse and creative team pioneering Mindjet's efforts.

"Discussions could range from technology to philosophy and even unique uses for MindManager software. So please join us at the blog."

They've even posted a MindManager map that contains hyperlinks to some of their favorite blogs on information visualization, collaboration and related fields, as well as their RSS feeds. Interesting idea.

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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, 21 April 2005 07:43:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Last night, I did something unusual, at least for me.

Honestly, I am not one to go to book or poetry readings or art houses or anything like that. Now, I have nothing against those kinds of things and places, but all else being equal I'd just assume go to a movie theater and see what Hollywood has to throw at me, or maybe watch a great movie on DVD that no one else I know has seen. Or maybe just jump on a motorcycle or 4 wheeler and cruise around and feel the wind.

But I really do like books, and I especially enjoy books by John Irving.

About 14 months ago, a few local people started putting together a new writing/author/books/written word festival, which they called Wordstock. Last night was the opening night, and I went with a friend (who also would not normally be caught dead at a book reading) to Keller Auditorium to see and hear John Irving, a great American novelist. I wondered what he would have to say, and what he might read or do.

I first encountered John Irving's stories in a theater when I saw The World According to Garp on film. I thought it was great, and it was one of those first movies early in my adult life that led me to actually read the book it was derived from, knowing even before cracking the cover that the book was almost certainly even better than the film.

My favorite John Irving novel is called A Prayer for Owen Meany, and it's unique in that it's written in the first person. If you appreciate a great storyteller who can paint the world in your mind and help you stand right in the middle of it, you should read John Irving.

His presentation was terrific. He first read from two of his works - the first reading was a first draft while the second was a polished, finished piece from his next novel, one which will be published soon. The first-draft piece was a funny story, and had the crowd laughing out loud. It was a true story, and one that will never be published, Irving said. The second reading was a rewritten, polished and final except from the opening of his new book. Both were terrific and fascinating to hear, in large part because I had never read them before, and in one case because I won't ever get to read the funny story that he wrote for a purpose other than publication. It was a lot like hearing a secret, and knowing something that most of the rest of the world will never experience.

Irving then answered questions from the audience. I was glad to discover through his answers that he's a no-crap, doesn't-mess-around kind of guy. As a bonus, I finally experienced someone whose answers to posed questions are even longer than mine (I'm lucky to have close friends that put up with my long windedness). Several esoteric questions were asked by people in the audience that had both me and my friend rolling our eyes ("What are your favorite words?" - Huh??). He deftly and politely responded to these questions with the most meaningful, indirect, free-thought non-answers, which (despite the fact that he actually has no favorite words) take you deep into his mind and provide a glimpse at how he thinks and writes, and why.

John Irving has always been one of my behind-the scenes heros, someone I have never met, but a seemingly quality man who writes thoughtful, meaningful books that I read and believe - books that make me wonder how an author could possibly know and write so much about me and my thoughts. That's what makes him a great author; When Irving writes, we don't just read the words, we feel them and see the world they describe.

Anyhow, this is all pretty deep for me. Suffice it to say that one night, I went to a book reading, which is something I'd not normally do. I went because the man who was reading was someone who's made an indirect but strong impression on my life on several occasions. I went because I wanted to hear his words in his own voice, and to see if the way I've read his words in the past was in any way similar to how he would speak and read them.

Oh and one more thing about John Irving. When he works he writes 8 or 9 hours a day, he's taught writing and English, has written several great novels, and he's dyslexic. Even without knowing that, the sheer volume and quality of his writing is amazing. But when you add dyslexia to the equation, it's so much more than just amazing.

I got to see one of my real-life heros. And I wasn't disappointed.

Wordstock. I may have to go again next year.

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Thursday, 21 April 2005 00:09:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 19 April 2005

This is great: How to Destroy the Earth. Sam Hughes (no relation) does an excellent job of outlining any of a variety of ways to bring this planet to it's end. And he clearly has a lot of time on his hands.


Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.


The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy.

This is not a guide for wusses whose aim is merely to wipe out humanity. I (Sam Hughes) can in no way guarantee the complete extinction of the human race via any of these methods, real or imaginary. Humanity is wily and resourceful, and many of the methods outlined below will take many years to even become available, let alone implement, by which time mankind may well have spread to other planets; indeed, other star systems. If total human genocide is your ultimate goal, you are reading the wrong document. There are far more efficient ways of doing this, many which are available and feasible RIGHT NOW. Nor is this a guide for those wanting to annihilate everything from single-celled life upwards, render Earth uninhabitable or simply conquer it. These are trivial goals in comparison.

This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore.

Read the whole thing here.

(via Jeremy's linkblog)

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Tuesday, 19 April 2005 11:48:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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