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Mike Greene
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I did a thing!

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I think I've finally found a(n open source) UML tool that I don't hate.

It doesn't fulfill my entire UML wishlist, but it comes closer than any other tool I have yet found.

So far I have tried:
- Dia (wish it were more stable, actively developed, didn't require X11 on Mac OS)
- yEd (really like the presentation, ease of use, and automatic layout engine, but it doesn't have the elements I want to use and I couldn't find any additional element downloads)
- Gaphor (not terribly stable, layout engine is still stupid)
- ObjectDraw (heavy, but decent. Windows-only is a dealbreaker as I have multiple machines of multiple platforms, and I need to be able to diagram on Windows and Linux at the very least)
- UMLet (I like how small it is. I don't like having to write Java snippets to "customize" elements in order to have a set of actually useful UML elements)
- ArgoUML (overly complicated, no acceptable built-in way to diagram database models)
- Visio (need cross-platform, would prefer open source)
- Modelio (suffers from memory bloat and possibly a memory leak in 3.0RC1. I like the way this tool looks, but dealing with heap errors every time I touch an element after my diagram has more than 15 elements is a deal breaker)

So far I have not tried:
- BOUML (requires a license, no trial period. I am not willing to pay to "demo" a product, no matter how impressive the feature list. Banking on a refund in case it doesn't fit my needs is also not acceptable. Paying every year to "re-up" my license is also not acceptable.)
- LucidChart/Gliffy/yUML/WebSequence/zOOml (web-based options are non-options as some of my diagrams may contain sensitive data. I also really don't want to be dependent on someone else's service being available, or needing to be connected to the 'net at all times. Sometimes I draw diagrams on the bus.)
- MagicDraw (commercial product; not cheap. Would hate to fall in love, then have my trial run out, and have to pay out the nose to continue to edit the graphs I made)
- UMLGraph (needlessly complex text-based editing is a bit of a turn-off. It looks like a lot more work than a WYSIWYG editor to produce a similar looking graph, and I'd like as easy and short of a learning curve as possible. I may revisit this at some point in the future, though, as I like the way the graph output looks, and the auto-routing appears sufficient)
- MetaUML (text based; I don't need LaTeX support)
- NetBeans/Eclipse/Papyrus/other IDE based diagramming environments (I would prefer not to be tied to a heavy IDE, or else I'd already be using one)

To be completely honest, I'm not necessarily avoiding a commercial product or having to buy a license. I am avoiding needlessly expensive products/licenses, and recurring fees, as I'm diagramming more for personal use than for work I get paid for.

EDIT: Of course, this precise dilemma also applies to Astah: one of the reasons it does not quite fulfill my use case is the ER diagram requires a "pro" license, which is probably the most expensive license I have seen for UML modeling software (or at least as far as the top of my memory is concerned).

If anyone out there can give me any possible alternatives, or insight, I am definitely open to input, especially if I can be pointed in the direction of more palette items for yEd, as its layout engine is the best I have seen so far.

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Repaired a Samsung SyncMaster 216BW by replacing the electrolytic capacitors on the power board.

I thought this might be interesting to see.

A few interesting things I noticed:
- There is no conformal coating on the PCB. I'm guessing this is because it takes in AC current, and that might be bad.
- Two of the caps were epoxied in place because they were (somewhat sloppily) mounted with a fair amount of lead above the PCB. I did not re-epoxy these caps because I mounted them flush to the surface of the board when soldering in the replacements.
- The PCB is very clearly marked and components are comfortably spaced. Although I'm very happy with the quality of my solder joints, I would say this is a very easy repair to do. Someone without much experience soldering things could expect to have good success repeating this repair.
- I sure hope Samsung isn't using capXon caps anymore.
SyncMaster 216-BW Repair
12 Photos - View album

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New guitar! Self birthday present this year.
ESP Ltd F-200
3 Photos - View album

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My watch arrived today, and here are my initial thoughts (shamelessly copied and pasted straight from my Facebook post)

I think this watch probably isn't worth what the MSRP shows (everywhere online seems to have them for $150-300, whereas the MSRP claims $1400).

So far though, here are my initial thoughts:
- The build quality seems very solid. The watch has nice heft, and the ceramic feels good. I need to adjust the band still. The glossy finish on the ceramic itself does seem to attract fingerprints like a magnet, but they wipe away easily enough.
- The chronograph functions are a little confusing because the little instruction manual that it comes with seems to cover every possible watch they carry, but only a page or so for each watch type - and it is not totally clear which watch matches which page without careful study of the watch itself and the diagrams.
- Further to the above, it did take me a good deal of time to figure out how to set the thing, with regards to the date, primarily. It also does not appear to track the month, so I have a feeling I will need to reset the date on the first of any month not having 31 days.
- It looks like the watch has a quartz movement. I was hoping it would have an automatic movement (because those things are super cool) but this works ok - it is nothing special though, as their listing it as a "swiss quartz movement" would intend to imply. I have no reason to believe it won't keep time well, but I doubt it will keep time any better than a less expensive Timex, for example.
- On the other hand, it has a "sapphire" crystal (crystallized aluminum oxide, anyway), which means very little should be able to scratch it.
- It came with a serial number tag, in a really cool faux leather box with a snap clasp, wrapped around a faux leather pillow. Very fancy. I certainly felt special unwrapping the thing.
- It has a 5 year warranty, and from the small amount I've read it seems they are pretty good about honoring that. So, that's a plus. Even if it only lasts 5 years, I'll probably be in the market for something new by then, anyway.

All in all, I am quite happy with this thing as a $150 watch. It plays to its strengths rather well: it is very striking to look at, and feels like it has a very nice build quality. That, and the MSRP, does belie its weakness of having a rather average and un-noteworthy movement, lack of month tracking in the calendar, and frankly incredibly insufficient documentation.

The bottom line: I think this watch might be worth the $150 I paid for it, but probably not one red cent more than that.

Also, doing a little bit further research, I have discovered why the MSRP is so high: Swiss Legend watches are produced by Swiss Watch International Group, which is based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. Apparently their bread and butter is TV shopping channels, and they are known for decent, but mostly gray market, value and what is described as "exceptional" customer service.

So, the "Deep Discount" thing seems to come from that. The idea being that they entice you into thinking you are getting a super incredible deal on a luxury Swiss watch, when really you are paying the normal amount for a decently built but probably not at all Swiss watch. Some of their watches (not this one) do appear to have Swiss movements, but the case is not Swiss and they are all assembled in China.

Some perspective.

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I wonder if we'll see some educational programs on PBS on how not to vote for a jackass.

I am now starting the competition! We have 4 lovely, eligible competitors for this:

- +Tyler Pittman
- my friend Jimmy
-@SluttyYutty via Twitter
-@martintsang via Twitter (EDIT: fixed spelling)

as well as four provisional entrants who are not eligible to win:
- +Nicholas Mogavero
- +Max Greene 
- my friend Sasha
- SmokeStacks via Penny Arcade Forums!

I will begin the game in just a moment here, and will provide updates after every mission here on this post, and on Twitter @MythMonk

Update the First!

First mission complete.@Yutty is dead. +Nicholas Mogavero and Sasha are promoted to Able Seaman. Jimmy is promoted to Ensign.

Update the Second!

16 turns into Mission 2, everyone but @martintsang(and +Max Greene) is dead. Congratulations to our winner!

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I suddenly find myself with an extra copy of Civ V. I'd like to do some sort of mini contest to give it away. Nothing too involved, but something amusing at least. Any ideas?

I should also specify that this is a Steam copy.


Okay. Here's the competition, should you be interested: all you have to do is submit your name.

I will then make you a character in an "XCOM: Terror from the Deep" squad, proceed to play through the game, and whoever survives the longest gets the game! Meanwhile, I will provide squad updates throughout the game until the last (wo)man is standing!

I will take entries until Sunday afternoon PST (9/30/2012).


If this becomes popular enough, perhaps I'll even livestream the game!


If this is even modestly successful, I plan to do give away other games in similar fashion in the future!

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I don't buy unlocked phones (mainly because of cost), but this is a good read all the same.

"And carriers rarely want what's best for their customers. "The carriers have always been wary of ‘excessive' innovation in the mobile space because of the danger that it might make mobile service cheaper," says Columbia Law School professor and The Master Switch author Tim Wu. If companies like HTC and Samsung were able to compete directly at the consumer level, the carriers would turn into dumb pipes — and AT&T and Verizon would be forced to raise their service levels and lower their monthly fees to effectively compete against each other.

That's good for consumers, but bad for carriers. "There's a business model that needs to be cared for," a Verizon spokesperson told us. But the wireless spectrum AT&T and Verizon use to build their networks is a scarce public resource literally leased from the people of the United States — shouldn't we have some say in how this market operates?"
Great article on why US wireless carriers need to be smothered with a pillow, and why I am only buying unlocked GSM devices from now on. Sadly, in the US, that means I'm stuck with AT&T-Mo and their MVNOs  but I can take my GSM phone anywhere in Canada and the majority of the rest of the world.
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