Farewell Blogger

When I created this blog in 2007, it wasn't with the intention to share my thoughts or write about anything interesting.

It was just to have a "presence" on the web, to stake out and declare a piece of the web for myself. However, as the number of interesting blog articles I came across rose, I slowly realized the importance of having a personal blog in this day and age. A blog can build credibility, allow you to network with clients and others in your industry, and give you an opportunity to showcase your skills, knowledge, or expertise in a subject matter.

Thus, I made it a goal near the end of 2010 to write more frequently. It sounds simple enough, but writing is hard for me. My first attempts were either short, succinct sentences or a couple paragraphs that took 3-4 days to write. I've stuck with it and feel a small improvement in every article I write.

I hope to write more and continue this trend. While Blogger has an easy to use interface, nice statistics, RSS feeds, comments.. basically the whole she-bang out of the box, there are a couple quirks that rub me the wrong way. I'll be going into detail the reasons for my migration away from Blogger in another post, but for now I've decided to go another direction.

You can find me at alexanderle.com. See you there!

My .vimrc configuration

VIM is my favorite text editor. It's powerful, customizable, and available on all platforms (default on unix-systems, gvim/macvim on pc/osx-systems). Most importantly, it's extremely efficient once you learn the movements and power commands. My hands rarely have to leave the keyboard when editing.

2012 Goals

I've always liked goals. To-Do lists, checkboxes, sticky notes. They give me a feeling of moving forward somewhere and comfort in knowing that I'm not stagnant.

However, I've noticed a disturbing trend lately. All the crossing-off of tasks and check-marking little boxes were to no avail. My lists were growing, despite how much effort I put into them. At one point, I had 132 tasks..

2011: Year In Review

The end of the year always comes with mixed emotions for me. On one hand, it's a chance to celebrate accomplishments, growth, and lessons learned. On the other hand, it's a reminder that another year has passed, another year of opportunities that were missed.

I set out to kick some ass in 2011. While I didn't put quite the dent I wanted on the universe, I couldn't be happier with what how 2011 went. Here's a recap of the goals I set for myself and how they went:

Store your data with HTML5 local storage

Local storage is a pretty cool feature included in HTML5.

It allows data to be stored on the client-side via a simple key/value database. Data saved by a page, up to 5MB, resides in the user's browser and is accessible only by pages from the same domain. In other words, local storage data saved by apple.com cannot be accessed by orange.com.

How to scrape a web page with python (Criminal Minds)

I've been hooked on the television show Criminal Minds lately. It follows a team of FBI profilers who analyze criminal behavior to catch some twisted bad guys. It's intriguing to me why serial killers do what they do, so the study and breakdown of each criminal's psyche in the show is appealing.

Luckily for me, ION airs 1-4 episodes almost every day. The only problem is I can never remember what time the show is on. As a result, I have to go to the ION website and check what time the episodes are. Every day.

Rework "Inspiration"

I finally got around to reading Rework. It's a book by 37signals that challenges how business is run today. It's a must-read for any entrepreneur and one of my favorite books this year.

My favorite programming quote

Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.

- Martin Golding

Ralph Waldo Emerson - Success

If someone asked me what success was, I really couldn't tell them.

Fancy job title. Big paycheck. To own a nice car and big house. Extravagant lifestyle. That's what pops in my head when I think of success.

But when I think about it, none of the above mean that much to me. Especially when I'm 70 and chilling in a retirement home. It's weird how many of us yearn and work so hard to become "successful", yet do not have a clear definition of what that entails for each of us.

Operation Learn-To-Read-Vietnamese: Tones

There are six tones in Vietnamese:

NameSymbolLevel/toneExampleEnglish Meaning
ngangamid levelmaghost
huyeànàlow falling, sometimes breathywhich
ngããhigh risingtomb
hỏifalling risingmảhorse
naënglow constrictedmạrice seedling

The tones differ in pitch, length, and intensity. Depending on the tone, similarly spelled words can have different meanings. Confusing? Yes!

Operation Learn-To-Read-Vietnamese: Alphabet

One of my goals this year is to learn how to read Vietnamese. I'm able to understand and speak the basics, but a block of vietnamese text could very well be hieroglyphs to me. It's strange this is the case, but I guess reading wasn't "essential" in being able to communicate with my parents at a young age.

Like most other languages, learning the alphabet is one of the first steps to reading so this is where I'll start. Here's a vietnamese alphabet list I found online to study:

Putting money in the bank

The 2008 Beijing Olympics were awesome. Usain Bolt, Team USA basketball, Phelps, Walsh & May volleyball. I was glued to the TV every night for a week.

The most memorable moment for me, however, was Michael Phelp's 100m butterfly. Phelps came back from a huge deficit (he was in 7th place at the half-way point) to overtake Milorad Cavic in a thrilling finish.