Ron Paul

I’m not trying to jump on the Ron Paul web traffic wave… No really, I promise.

Ron Paul caught my attention after the last Republican debate. I started reading up on him and watching videos of some of his speeches. Basically, he believes in the things that make this a great country, specifically the Constitution. To be honest, there are things that the government has been doing that I didn’t know went against the Constitution: the Federal Reserve, income tax, going to war without it passing both houses of Congress, etc. Why didn’t the media alert me to these things?!

But really, if we don’t have and uphold the Constitution, what do we have? Not much. I urge you to watch the debate tonight (8 pm Central on Fox News, I think) and pay attention to Dr. Paul. Until then, go to his campaign site, and search Google Video, Blog Search and Technorati for more info.

Deposit checks with your scanner

Ever since my wife and I started using USAA for banking and auto insurance, we’ve been nothing but pleased. Their website is very user-friendly and feature-packed, and their customer service is literally the best I’ve ever dealt with. The one drawback was that, since they didn’t have any branches in my area, we had to mail in all our checks to be deposited. They did provide postage-paid envelopes with deposit slips to make the process easy, but it took about a week for the money to show up in our account after we sent it off…. until recently.

Around the beginning of this year, USAA released a feature they call “Deposit@Home” (admittedly not the most original name). This service allows you to deposit checks by scanning them using an applet on their website. You sign your check and scan in the front and back and the money is instantly available in your account…. Amazing.

If you’re eligible for USAA membership, I highly recommend them for any service they offer. What other banks have a service like this (I’m sure there are others)?

Can you change your parents?

Today’s Linux tip (technically, a bash tip) deals with one of the most-used commands: cd.

Here’s the scenario: There’s a directory deep in the filesystem that you go to a lot, so you put a symlink to it in your home directory. For some reason, you really need to be in that directory’s parent, but ‘cd ..’ takes you back to your home directory and typing in the whole path is just too hard (aka, you’re too lazy).

The solution is the ‘-P’ flag on the cd command: “The -P option says to use the physical directory structure instead of following symbolic links”. So if you cd -P into that directory, you can then cd .. to its parent. But what if you’re already in that directory and you didn’t get there with ‘-P’? Easy: ‘cd -P .’ changes you to the same directory you are in, but in the “real” location, getting rid of any symlinks in your working directory. Also, ‘cd -P ..’ will take you to the “real” parent of your current directory. Such a simple thing, but something that would have saved me some keystrokes in the past.

I am pack leader

For some unknown reason, our two dogs recently started getting into fights. We’re not talking the typical dogs-playing-rough type fights, these are I’m-gonna-rip-your-throat-out type fights. Now, they never tried to attack or hurt us, even when we were using our persons to seperate them. They would just periodically go into a tense, big-eyed stare off followed by a frenzy of teeth and claws. We were really starting to get worried about what we might have to do if we couldn’t make them stop fighting.

Luckily, we’re fans of The Dog Whisperer with the great Cesar Millan. We started to employ some of the techniques from that show (with the addition of our favorite dog weapon – a squirt bottle), and have worked them down almost to their old normal selves. The calm, assertive pack leader mentality really works, especially if you have a squirt bottle in your hands.

Using vim as a pager (in gentoo)

Wondering what the “vim-pager” use flag on app-editors/vim did, I gave it a shot. Turns out it gives you 2 extra commands: vimpager and vimmanpager. So adding

export MANPAGER=/usr/bin/vimmanpager

to your login script of choice (.bashrc works just fine), man will use vim as a pager, complete with systax highlighting and ability to use the mouse scroll wheel and other such fun things to navigate man pages.

You could also set PAGER (and/or alias less) to vimpager, but I found that vimpager waits for EOF before displaying anything, meaning it won’t work for commands that run until interupted, and commands that run for a long time wait until completion to show anything at all.

UPDATE to ask: If anyone knows a way to use this but to use the colors from a program with color output, eg. “ls –color=always | vimpager”, please let me know.

On Avoiding the Password 'Explosion'

This article from the BBC states:

The number of passwords and logins web users need makes it inevitable they will re-use phrases, warned the International Telecommunications Union.

Re-using these identifiers puts people at serious risk of falling victim to identity theft, said the ITU report.

It called on regulators and businesses to find better ways for people to identify themselves to websites.

This just re-iterates what I’ve said before: “Time is ripe for distributed authentication.”

OpenID already exists, is fairly well proven to avoid these problems and has support in several programming languages and content management systems. The only barrier to overcome is getting joe internet user to understand how it works and how it benefits them.

But whatever you do, please don’t leave it up to regulators.


I have lots of trouble hearing/comprehending the other party when I’m talking on the phone. I highly prefer to be able to see their face, especially their mouth, when in a detailed conversation. A lot of time when I’m on the phone, you’ll see me with the phone pressed firmly to one ear and a finger in the other. Something funny that I’ve just noticed is that when trying really hard to listen, My eyes will point the direction that the phone is in… phone on left ear, eyes look left. When I’m concentrating really, really hard, I’ll bow my head and close my eyes (turning off one sense can heighten another, right?), but I’ve noticed that my eyes still look in the direction of the phone.

Just thought that was funny and felt like sharing.

Share the Road

This self proclaimed “crazy biker chick” has written a plea for automobile drivers to be considerate of cyclists on roadways. I appreciate her position on the issue and her independence from oil-powered transportation. I would bike to work sometimes if it weren’t for the 4-lane, limited-access highway occupied by sleepy (hungover?) college students running late for class between me and my office.

I do, however, take issue with some cyclists: If you want to share the road with us automobiles, then you need to follow the same rules. Stop signs (and lights) apply to you as well, and a hand turn signal would really help sometimes. Remember, you are part of traffic too… Share the road, geez.