The Weird Things I Found..

I came across something awesome while shopping for Kelly’s Christmas stuff a week or few ago, one I think I should share briefly. I found a puzzle which was a picture of a lighthouse:

I thought “Huh, looks cool..” and I moved on down the aisle. Then I thought “wait, haven’t I seen this before?”

Lo and behold, it is a photo of the lighthouse at Cape Reinga (Ree-ung-ah) at the northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand.

Needless to say I bought it, and she opened it at some point yesterday 😉

I also found a pack of 100 (I think?) cookie cutters, which were also opened around the same time, and a green cover for the iPod Touch her mom got for her, and so meanly told me (I had to keep it quiet!).

Anyway, that’s basically what I got my wife for Christmas 😉

Christmas Shopping

I did some Christmas shopping for Kelly today, bought a couple of things (I won’t say what they are — she reads this!) that I think she’ll like a lot. We still haven’t set a budget for each other with a few family members left to buy for, but I’m expecting it to be around $20 each and so far I’m fairly well under that. I still have a few ideas left when we actually set a specific number and I have a target, we’ll have to see how it pans out.

It’s difficult to find time to go out and buy things for Kelly though, because we live 20 minutes or so from the nearest worthwhile shopping space in Harrisonburg. With two Walmarts, Target, Ross, Big Lots, Michaels, the various Dollar stores, it’s just a great place to shop rather than the Dollar General and the few small stores in Broadway, and the Family Dollar in Timberville, everything else is more specializing than I’m looking for usually. But Kelly usually works from 9:30-6, meaning she’s gone with the car from around 9-6:30, and driving the truck is not a very appealing idea financially, so unless we have a day like today (where I dropped her off and will meet her for one of her work functions before coming home), I have to break away from our evenings together or on the weekend some time. I’m sure she feels similarly, because a one-hour lunch break isn’t very long when you have to traverse traffic on the roads and in the stores.

With this in mind it is little wonder that more and more people are migrating to online purchases, or at least online-research before going to the stores to buy (there is something about a face-to-face interaction, and having a store to take something back to rather than paying shipping for an RMA etc).

This is how I usually shop, let’s use me as an example:

  1. Think about who I’m buying for, and have a few core ideas about what they like. I like computers, I like guitar and music in general, and I like fun stuff with some kind of purpose.
  2. Think about stores that carry items that fit these categories. For example, Thinkgeek, Walmart, Music stores.
  3. Visit the online stores and get specific ideas. Specific t-shirts from Thinkgeek for example, maybe look at the electronics section on the Walmart website, or guitar or other music equipment at websites like MusiciansFriend.
  4. Research and try to find a good deal on each specific item. Google’s shopping site is a great tool for this. Often what I find can be found just as good but at a lower price if I look hard enough. Keeping in mind, however, that while many online stores are completely reputable, some aren’t. If I come across a site that is new to me I may run a few searches to see if other people have had good experiences or not.
  5. Weigh up which idea is the best for the person I’m buying for. Maybe they don’t need the guitar I found, or they wouldn’t appreciate the T-shirt I’m looking at, or maybe it is just out of the budget I had set for them.
  6. Give it a couple of days, depending on whether I am buying online or in-store (if in-store it is more likely to be an immediate decision, but still not necessarily). I’m not usually one to make a rush purchase if I think I have some time to think about what I’m about to do.
  7. Make a final decision, and buy it.

There you go. My 7-step guide to buying Christmas stuff. Unless you want to take a month to work through your family, I also recommend doing this process on several people at once 😉

It Has Been a While!

Wow, I keep realizing how long it has been since I wrote an entry here. Most things remain the same. I still don’t have a full time job, although I interviewed with a county school system earlier this week and also applied to a year-round resort, both IT positions. I also have another 3 jobs to apply for this afternoon (hopefully) that are also IT and not terribly far away.

I’ve done some work on my monitoring systems for my servers. Over the last few months I’ve developed several methods for providing close to real-time outage-notifications and misc. monitoring for the three servers I administrate. The system I currently have primarily does two things: Service unavailable notifications via Twitter, Email and Txt message (via email), and corresponding “It’s available again” messages, and system monitoring using an Eggdrop IRC bot for each server with basic commands.

I’d like to expand this system at some point in the future, by migrating the system monitoring system from Eggdrop to a Perl bot. This would allow it to be more portable, and hopefully have a smaller footprint on the server it runs on. It would be nice to have IRC-based announcements for server-up/server-down as well as more minor alerts, like high CPU usage, high RAM usage, high hard disk partition usage, etc. We’ll see how that goes at some point in the future.

In more interesting news, I believe we have pretty much finished our Christmas shopping. All of our box to New Zealand items have been bought, and we are waiting for 3 of them to ship or arrive by mail. All but one (I believe) of the remaining items have been wrapped, and they’re all sitting in a corner of our room waiting for everything else to be ready to go. We’re just waiting for 2 items to arrive (apparently they were mailed recently), and another to be mailed. I checked yesterday and it was still pending.

I recently provided a redesign for a fan-site, I’ll try and post screenshots later. I’m also working on upgrading/updating the Infinitley-aLive website, and moving away from WordPress. I’m undecided yet as to whether I’ll use SilverStripe (as on or if I’ll build my own fully customized CMS for it. Having been looking at CodeIgniter, it may be a fun first-project for a CodeIgniter site.

Lastly, if you find yourself in need of some web-design or web-programming, or a shell account for almost anything, or just basic webhosting, leave me a comment or something. I am happy to work with your budget so long as it fits mine, I’m happy to work for the testimonial and for a reference for my resume if I feel a need to use it, and you’re happy to provide the details I need. I accept paypal, and cash or check if you wish to meet locally. Also, if I can’t do something I’ll let you know quickly, and if I can I’ll point in the direction of people who are able to fulfill your requirements.