Category Archives: Personal

These posts are about personal aspects of my life. They might include something fun I’ve been doing, some life-hacking I’ve engaged in, or something totally random.

Statement by Google CFO causes stock market stumble

It’s amazing what happens when the CFO of a company with an already over-inflated stock price makes a small statement like — “clearly our growth rates are slowing. You can see that each and every quarter”. While he was only stating what should have been plainly obvious by the quarterly financial reports, his statement was taken hard by an already volatile stock market. Google’s stock dropped by nearly 9%this morning and the DOW dropped and the down dropped by an entire percentage point. It’s amazing how much the stock market reacts to small statements like this. Take for instance, Rackable systems. They develop energy efficient, cool-running, equipment that will save companies more money than you can shake a stick at. This stock, by all analyst accounts is a win-win for everyone. Its one flaw today was that it had Google as one of many large customers. Take a look at what happened mid day at the announcement.


Luckily, the bulls saw this as a buying opportunity and drove the price back up. However, it just goes to show you how much a small statement by a powerful person can affect the economy in a single instant.

Award for Customer Excellence Nomination

Today I received a very strange email from Microsoft. It claimed I was nominated for an “Award for Customer Excellence”. I’m not particularly sure what work I did that this award would be for, but here’s what the email said:

Dear Tobin Titus,

Thank you for being a great contributor to
Microsoft Visual Studio 2005.

You have been nominated to receive the Award
for Customer Excellence. This award recognizes
your extraordinary contribution to the Visual
Studio 2005 product and will be shipped to you
without charge. Please click the following
link to arrange shipment of your award:
ACE Code: xxxx-xxx-xxxx-xxxx

Should you have any questions about this award,
please contact .

All the best,

S. Somasegar
Corporate Vice President,
Microsoft Developer Division

The accompanying site had this award that was to be sent to me if I filled in my personal information.

Ace Award

Ace Award

Does anyone know what this is supposed to be for and if its legit?

Microsoft Korean Promo for Visual Studio .NET 2005

OK. I don’t really know how to react to this.

And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging…

Many have already asked me why I haven’t been blogging lately. I’ve been taking care of a few family issues and putting my energy into that. Most of the major fires are out and its time to get back down to blogging as normal.

For some of you that know me, and some that may have picked up on it in other ways, I had been working as an employee for the past year and a half. I’ve decided to leave the days of employment behind me and head out in my own business ventures. I’ve always felt I had an adventuresome entrepreneurial spirit and its time to put that to use again. I have already landed my first large contract and have only been officially on my own since Thursday (9/29/2005) so I’m feeling pretty good about my chances of survival. More so than putting bread on my own table, I’m already renewed my confidence in my abilities to help provide sound business and technical advice to small and medium sized businesses — helping to put bread on the tables of project managers, developers, and busines owners for a long time to come.

Over the next few months, aside from working on Project Fazr with some really great guys, I’ll also be working on helping my parents grow their small-town business into a franchise, grow my own venture into something to be reconned with, working with Microsoft on several other projects under NDA, and helping as many small and medium sized businesses with their needs as I possibly can. Look for more information to be coming soon. I also promise to pick up the pace soon with the technical blogging!

The house of pain is in effect ya’ll

I’m still sitting here with my back in agony but working on some very cool projects. As you’ll notice my post count has dropped each month, slowly but surely. I hope you don’t hold that too much against me. Forgive the dorky analogy, but I have too many threads executing in my life right now and not enough time slices in the day to handle everything and blogging without reaching my saturation point — the point where context switching takes up more time than is effective to execute my processes. Unfortunately, I’m running under more of a cooperative model and these project schedules don’t neccessarily play nice-nice with one another. Between work at TiBA, projects for Microsoft, book writing, investigating features of CO and SXM, learning some lower-level programming to keep up with the Jones’, putting together a new presentation for Code Camp in Charleston, and presentations for multiple guild meetings (October, November, December), posting a few answers here and there on the forums, I don’t have much time to myself. Blogging, therefore has had its thread priority set to below normal.

Speaking of cooperative threading, I’m proud to say that my recent eBay addiction landed me a brand-spanking new copy of Windows 3.1, MS-DOS 6.2 and a MS-DOS 6.22 upgrade (no Windows 3.11 upgrade yet). These copies are sealed and even still have a part number sticker on them from the large computer manufacturer these were sold by (OEM). They will go in my museum of artifacts. I am having a bit of buyer’s remorse though. I’ve spent too much money on useless things like my ATARI 800XL which I fully expect to be here a couple of days after the July 4th holiday. This too was a brand new system (appears new and unused).

Anyway, enough babbling for the night.

Sleepless in Greenville

For two weeks solid, I’ve been stuck in some sort of zombie mode. I’ve been unable to sleep for more than an hour at a time, or not at all some nights. I have had some major back pain in the past week and a half too so that may have something to do with it. But as I sit her ein my computer nook at my baren apartment, I find myself wide awake but unable to concentrate enough to do anything constructive. I try doing my work and I cannot. I try taking a couple unisome and laying in bed, instead I feel like I’m on some sort of acid trip. The type of sleep that unisome attempts to induce is something very strange to me. Its like the drugs are trying to “trick” me into falling asleep. It may sound slightly crazy, but I’ve somehow conditioned myself to get wide awake when I feel I’m being tricked. So taking unisome just makes me feel very strange, but even more awake. I’m not anxious about anything. I’m not taking on more or less work than I usually do. I’m just, awake and in pain from my back.

I’ve tried everying I can think of and its getting worse. Does anyone else get this way? Unbelievable!

I don’t know what’s funnier, that some guy made a website threatening to eat a “cute bunny rabbit” if he didn’t get $50,000 US before the 30th of this month, or that he’s made half of his goal so far in donations! As the folks at .NET Rocks mentioned, this has to be some psych major’s thesis project or something. I know this isn’t tech related, but lets turn this into a security related issue.

The biggest security threat still open today is social engineering. I first heard this term ages ago reading The Cookoo’s Egg (or some other related ‘hacker’ book). The concept is that you can use your whits, not just computer savy, to gain elevated priviledges. We have to do a better job at not falling for every little trick in the book. We have to be more alert. For instance, I received a bounced message in my inbox this morning. I do get a lot of these for several reasons and every now and again, I check them out if I get a lot of them. Looking at the message though, I could tell it wasn’t a real bounced message. It was a phishing scam. The reason why is that it pointed me to my domain with the opportunity to view the bounced message online. The link it pointed me to was using PHP and was in a subdirectory that didn’t exist on my hosting server (I run my own hosting business). This was rather clever, and I’m sure that a lot of these actually yield results.

So while isn’t a security hole in itself, the concept of engineering a psychological scam on people is not. Be alert. Be vigilant. Be ready to watch a rabbit die now and again.

Where’d all my ‘tech’ go?

I’m sitting in my apartment in Greenville, SC looking over the pool, listening to a television that’s sitting on the floor, watching commercials for one piece of technology after another. Suddenly something hit me.

When I was a poor guy working for next to nothing, I had access to pretty much the best of technology. I always had a computer or two that were top of the line with the best graphics and processor upgrades available. I had the newest cell phone and knew about pretty much every gadget coming out in the next 6 months to a year.

I sit here in astonishment wondering where did all of my technology go? I still have ALL CRT displays in my house, I have mediocre computers with the exception of a laptop that the company issued me — which of course really isn’t top of the line either. My cell phone is old and tired. I don’t even own a PDA. I see one of our GS folks at work won an HP63xx Pocket PC and isn’t even using the cell phone built into it. I don’t own a tablet PC. I don’t even have my own subscription to MSDN universal anymore. What happened to me?

Has anyone else noticed this sort of trend in their own lives? Its not that I don’t have the money. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy playing with the gadgets. I just, don’t seem to have the time to do the research on the products anymore. I go to the local electronics store and stand in front of the latest super-snazzy tech and then try to decide which is best based on the specs, but then decide I’ll go back home and do some more research before buying the item. By the time I remember to look it up, some new gadget is out and I repeat the cycle. I’m sort of frustrated now and I feel like I may just have tech-envy. I see everyone else with their gadgets and I have to say… where’s my tech? Someone please stop me from running to the store in a panic and buying up a storm! Tell me this is normal. Someone? Anyone?

Moving Tomorrow — Feedmap Changing

Tomorrow, I am moving from Charlotte, NC to Greenville, SC. I’ll be relocating my feedmap as well. As such, I want to wish my fellow Charlotte bloggers a fond fairwell, but not a goodbye. I may be moving, but I’ll be watching you all, so no funny business!

On another note, welcome Greenville bloggers! It’s good to be back 🙂

Who’s reading my blog? Wall Street Journal staff?

A few days ago, I blogged about wireless communications and the fact that “Friends don’t let friends use wireless“. Not two days after my post, the wall street journal posted an article about the very same thing (requires subscription). Granted they actually did the reporting well by researching the topic. They probably haven’t ever seen my blog, but its nice to see a national publication renouned for reporting precisely about most topics (other than political opinion) confirm my thoughts on the matter.