The CFP List: www.cfplist.com

As a professional in literature, you are constantly on the prowl to present at conferences. So, as you can imagine, grad students are strongly encouraged to attend and submit papers to conferences whenever possible. “Real” conferences, to me, are super intimidating still. I can’t help but have nightmares that someone is going to ask me a question that I can’t answer. Or worse, a question to which I can’t even figure out the question.

Lately I’ve been scouring the web for friendly graduate student conferences which I think I may be able to handle. Unfortunately, there are very few sites that have a nice rich repository of CFPs (Call for Papers). Sorry, “CFPs”, the acronym I had to learn lately, is basically a beacon call for academics to submit a proposal to present. So a fellow English Grad student and I created our own CFP database called cfplist.com. The goal is to warehouse all CFPs floating out there. Well, we’ll see if it takes off!

Make sure to check it out: http://www.cfplist.com

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IIS7 and non-www prefix on domain

Be warned, this is a somewhat technical post. It took me a while today to figure why my webserver running IIS7 was not loading up my website whenever the “www” prefix was not included. So for instance, “ariyam.com” was sending out a 404 error, while “www.ariyam.com” was working correctly. After spending a lot of time Googling my way to a solution I actually ended up in a dead-end and had to figure this out on my own. Others had suggested adding “redirect” rules, but that didn’t seem to work for me. Turns out the problem is incredibly easy to fix on IIS7. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Firstly, open up a command prompt and make sure “www.domain.com” and “domain.com” are pointing to the same IP. You can either run “ping www.domain.com” or use “nslookup www.domain.com” to do this. If the IPs don’t match, you have a DNS issue which you need to resolve first (don’t ask me how).
  2. Assuming the IPs match for the non-www domain and the regular domain, you can then proceed to your web server and launch the IIS7 management (inetmgr).
  3. The issue is something called “binding”. All you have to do as add another “binding” entry on IIS for your website. It takes about 10 seconds. Once you have IIS7 open, click on your website and click the Binding link on the right, click add, then put in the domain name minus the “www” prefix. See the screen shots below.
  4. And that’s it!


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(Un)Comfortable Reading Positions or “Norton Neck-Cramps”

There’s a common problem plaguing english grad students — in fact, it may have spread to all students generally. It is a problem oft dismissed as irrelevant; never talked about; never addressed, and students suffer alone when confronting it. I of course refer to this:

The 3,000 page neck-aching Norton Anthologies: textbooks that work your mind as well as your forearms. Pictured here is my Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Just look at it! It laughs at your futile attempts to read it comfortably. The first 500 pages or so are by far the worst of the experience — the book constantly shutting from the stress on its binding. Sometimes I look forward to mid-semester only because the book balances better on a table. Word of caution: do not attempt to read this book in bed, unless you have two spotters (very few people do). If you read it in a chair with your lap (which sounds reasonable) you will find your eyes cannot make out the micro-print typeface. The book must be 10-12 inches from the eyes, and the only way to accomplish this is on a flat table, with your neck precariously hinged, taking frequent breaks to relieve the stressors on said neck.

Fortunately, that has all changed. I’ve finally discovered a more comfortable way to read this book! I never thought I’d see this day, but alas: Behold, the book holder!

This ingenious device props books upright allowing it to be read easily at eye-level, relieving neck stress, minimizing head movements, and overall providing a more comfortable and healthy reading posture for uber-large textbooks.

In my mind, this is a revolutionary find (though, apparently a hushed secret among law students who have known about it for years: damn lawyers and their secret clubs!). I bought mine from Amazon for about 8$ and love it. It has already dramatically improved my reading experience, and as result, no doubt will seep into better grades. Simply search for “book holder” on Amazon and always remember who showed you the way ;-)

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Statement of Purpose Writing Tips

Statement of Purpose essays are incredibly difficult to write. This past April, I began the application process anew for my PhD. Of course among the items required was a statement of purpose. Worse, I read it’s often considered the most important component of the application. The doctoral degree emphasizes specialization, focus and (gulp) “purpose.” Add to that, if you’re applying to a program where “writing” is central to success (English for instance) a Statement of Purpose holds evermore weight.

But after tips from friends, professors, and after studying several samples, I discovered advice to help craft a decent Statement of Purpose.

The following are 10 tips for anyone needing to write a Statement of Purpose for graduate school.

  1. Be humble. Don’t be a know-it-all who writes-out advice in lists of ten simple and fairly obvious statements.
  2. Leave the lofty goals and ambitions to Miss America pageants: Be real and be yourself. The world will not be a better place if you’re accepted to graduate school. True, you are special and unique; however, there are billions of people who are also special and unique. So, act accordingly after weighing in that proportion. A “real” person is much more refreshing and interesting then someone effusively optimistic/naive.
  3. Your opening sentence and/or opening paragraph are the most important parts. Spend time with them. Don’t make them generic and don’t take over-the-top risks to stand out; like opening with a haiku or some unnecessarily provocative statement.
  4. Stand out with specificity.
  5. Avoid all and every sort of cliche.
  6. Demonstrate focus and drive indirectly through illustration. Don’t explicitly say something about yourself that cannot be corroborated.
  7. Keep a common thread running through the essay.
  8. While you may not know exactly what you want to focus on in graduate school, it helps to highlight a focus area. There must be at least one thing you’re interested in. Find out what that is and talk about it. Allow your own natural interest to color your enthusiasm (don’t feign excitement when it’s not there).
  9. Have different people read your essay to offer their feedback.
  10. Re-read the first paragraph of your essay and honestly ask yourself “If I were a random stranger, would I want to read on?” If not, don’t feel afraid to scrap that entire paragraph. It’s not about length, it’s about quality of content. Sentences should be painfully crafted, revisited, rewritten — polished to death as it were. If your statement of purpose doesn’t take you over a week to write, or if it doesn’t look drastically different than the first rough draft, it’s probably not ready for submission.

Explore yourself through the essay. You may come to discover that you have a clearer idea of yourself and your own purpose for pursuing graduate work by the very act of writing about it. In some respect, it can be an exercise for yourself.

Okay now, here’s a test: look at the paragraph you just read right before this. If any part of your essay reads like that, delete it! While it contains a modicum of truth, it’s wrapped in corny, lofty, non-specific, language that reads a bit like pablum — which has no place in your essay!

A Sample Statement of Purpose Essay

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Melodie Professional Edition

Melodie ProOnce upon a time, churches used overhead projectors to display song lyrics on screen for people to follow. This was not bad for its time, but it did require a lot of work on the operator. It was tedious (and stressful) to search for songs fast under pressure; one needed nimble fingers to jump to different stanzas quickly, and strange cardboard-contraptions to obscure certain lines. And apart from rolling back the projector and re-focusing, adjusting the size and resolution or the background was difficult if not impossible. But thankfully, in this era such contraptions are a thing of the past.

After many long months of programming, I’m happy to introduce our latest software creation: Melodie. With Melodie, you can store your entire library of songs on a computer, and then quickly retrieve them, and have lyrics scroll down at a certain pace, and/or quickly queue up the next song or stanza at the direction of a song leader. The idea is distraction-free worship.

But if you need to add a little color or make a more dynamic song/bible presentation (for a youth choir, or Sunday School graduation for example) you can still do that with Melodie!

With the new Professional Edition of Melodie you can set dynamic backgrounds (picture clouds moving) via videos. The text, fonts, margins etc. are all customizable. In fact, Melodie Professional has a whole suite of neat features, such as:

  • Dual-Screen Output
  • Direct X-based text scrolling for enhanced smoothness and control
  • Jump quickly to individual song lines as well as stanzas
  • Supports wide screen output aspect ratios
  • Easy to use (cliché-sounding, but it really is easy)
  • Bulk import your song data from a spreadsheet
  • Songs can be “tagged” by keywords to aid in searching.
  • Video loop and gradient background options
  • Advanced full-text song searching algorithm
  • Quick Bible passage look-ups (comes with the KJV and ASV bible)
  • Shortcut / Function keys make operation a cinch
  • Melodie keeps itself up-to-date automatically

Check out The Melodie Professional Edition website to download and learn more!

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Mission Window Seat

It’s getting colder out, so I’ve hustled to finish my final woodworking project for the year. I put the last coat of poly last night. It’s called: The Mission Window Seat. It’s made entirely of Red Oak (my first time working with oak).

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Twenty Months Later

Twenty months. Imagine that. It’s been that long since I wrote anything on this site. It’s amazing to think I started this blog a little over 6 years ago, and almost two of those years was left without writing a single thing (at least on here). I’ve since upgraded my wordpress version to the latest one — the update to end all updates apparently. The new versions can automatically upgrade themselves without the need to FTP anything across, backup a database, and/or delete files manually. (At least that’s what I think I read.)

In the last two years, I’ve since discovered woodworking and how awesome it is. Most of my evenings are spent in the garage (which is now a balmy 1.6 C or 29 F) and is my new safe-haven. I can spend hours on hours in there getting lost in my work, forgetting to eat, and only stopping when I’m physically and mentally so tired I end up making costly mistakes. So far, none of those costly mistakes have resulted in amputation — thank God!

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.NET Color to Hex Code

There are times (many) that a .NET developer needs to use the web-iversal Hex code for a color as opposed to the pretty-named Microsoft palette. I can’t begin to count the times I’ve needed a simple Hex code for LightSteelBlue, or LemonChiffon, or one of my favorites, Gainsboro. Hence, provided below, I’ve made a little table of all the .NET colors alongside a reference to the web Hex code equivalent. It’s ordered alphabetically. Hope it’s useful! It sure makes for a colorful post.

AliceBlue
#F0F8FF
AntiqueWhite #FAEBD7
Aqua #00FFFF
Aquamarine #7FFFD4
Azure #F0FFFF
Beige #F5F5DC
Bisque #FFE4C4
Black #000000
BlanchedAlmond #FFEBCD
Blue #0000FF
BlueViolet #8A2BE2
Brown #A52A2A
BurlyWood #DEB887
CadetBlue #5F9EA0
Chartreuse #7FFF00
Chocolate #D2691E
Coral #FF7F50
CornflowerBlue #6495ED
Cornsilk #FFF8DC
Crimson #DC143C
Cyan #00FFFF
DarkBlue #00008B
DarkCyan #008B8B
DarkGoldenrod #B8860B
DarkGray #A9A9A9
DarkGreen #006400
DarkKhaki #BDB76B
DarkMagenta #8B008B
DarkOliveGreen #556B2F
DarkOrange #FF8C00
DarkOrchid #9932CC
DarkRed #8B0000
DarkSalmon #E9967A
DarkSeaGreen #8FBC8B
DarkSlateBlue #483D8B
DarkSlateGray #2F4F4F
DarkTurquoise #00CED1
DarkViolet #9400D3
DeepPink #FF1493
DeepSkyBlue #00BFFF
DimGray #696969
DodgerBlue #1E90FF
Firebrick #B22222
FloralWhite #FFFAF0
ForestGreen #228B22
Fuchsia #FF00FF
Gainsboro #DCDCDC
GhostWhite #F8F8FF
Gold #FFD700
Goldenrod #DAA520
Gray #808080
Green #008000
GreenYellow #ADFF2F
Honeydew #F0FFF0
HotPink #FF69B4
IndianRed #CD5C5C
Indigo #4B0082
Ivory #FFFFF0
Khaki #F0E68C
Lavender #E6E6FA
LavenderBlush #FFF0F5
LawnGreen #7CFC00
LemonChiffon #FFFACD
LightBlue #ADD8E6
LightCoral #F08080
LightCyan #E0FFFF
LightGoldenrodYellow #FAFAD2
LightGray #D3D3D3
LightGreen #90EE90
LightPink #FFB6C1
LightSalmon #FFA07A
LightSeaGreen #20B2AA
LightSkyBlue #87CEFA
LightSlateGray #778899
LightSteelBlue #B0C4DE
LightYellow #FFFFE0
Lime #00FF00
LimeGreen #32CD32
Linen #FAF0E6
Magenta #FF00FF
Maroon #800000
MediumAquamarine #66CDAA
MediumBlue #0000CD
MediumOrchid #BA55D3
MediumPurple #9370DB
MediumSeaGreen #3CB371
MediumSlateBlue #7B68EE
MediumSpringGreen #00FA9A
MediumTurquoise #48D1CC
MediumVioletRed #C71585
MidnightBlue #191970
MintCream #F5FFFA
MistyRose #FFE4E1
Moccasin #FFE4B5
NavajoWhite #FFDEAD
Navy #000080
OldLace #FDF5E6
Olive #808000
OliveDrab #6B8E23
Orange #FFA500
OrangeRed #FF4500
Orchid #DA70D6
PaleGoldenrod #EEE8AA
PaleGreen #98FB98
PaleTurquoise #AFEEEE
PaleVioletRed #DB7093
PapayaWhip #FFEFD5
PeachPuff #FFDAB9
Peru #CD853F
Pink #FFC0CB
Plum #DDA0DD
PowderBlue #B0E0E6
Purple #800080
Red #FF0000
RosyBrown #BC8F8F
RoyalBlue #4169E1
SaddleBrown #8B4513
Salmon #FA8072
SandyBrown #F4A460
SeaGreen #2E8B57
SeaShell #FFF5EE
Sienna #A0522D
Silver #C0C0C0
SkyBlue #87CEEB
SlateBlue #6A5ACD
SlateGray #708090
Snow #FFFAFA
SpringGreen #00FF7F
SteelBlue #4682B4
Tan #D2B48C
Teal #008080
Thistle #D8BFD8
Tomato #FF6347
Transparent #FFFFFF
Turquoise #40E0D0
Violet #EE82EE
Wheat #F5DEB3
White #FFFFFF
WhiteSmoke #F5F5F5
Yellow #FFFF00
YellowGreen #9ACD32
Posted in minutiae | 3 Comments

Shakespeare Reader

I’d like to introduce my latest software creation: The Free Shakespeare Reader. What is it exactly? Does it read Shakespeare plays for you? No.

I suppose if you take the title literally, it’s a total misnomer. But, it’s too late to change it!

What my new application does, is it provides the user with all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays in a single application, with study aids like a play-notebook, word/paragraph counts, full-text searching, etc. All the plays are packaged into the application, so you don’t need an internet connection on your computer to access or search through any one of the plays. This is a handy and invaluable application for students and Shakespeare fans everywhere.

Best of all, it’s free. Just download it to any computer running Windows, execute the installer, and voila, you’re done! (To uninstall, go to your control panel/add-or-remove programs, and select “shakespeareReaderInstaller”.)

For more info and some screen shots, visit this page. Hope you like it!

Download Link : Mirror 1 (ShakespeareReaderInstaller.msi)

Shakespeare Reader Screenshot

Posted in minutiae | 5 Comments

Obama, History

This doesn’t feel real. An African American president?

I’m at home, sick with a cold, alone in bed with my laptop, and the road outside my window is all quiet. There are no cars going by. There are no children outside running around cat-calling. The television is off. But I can feel my own pulse beating off of my pillow.

What was it like when Martin Luther King Jr was shot? Or, when JFK gave his speech; or when he was shot? Watching those moments of history in archive footage, I often wonder what it would be like living in one. I sometimes think the moment must have been loud, and rattled the globe like an earthquake. And I always wonder what I would have done, or felt, in those giant moments in history.

Well, I feel like I just witnessed one of those moments last night on television. I kept pausing my mind, looking at myself listening, trying to snap-shot the moment in my head; believing I was actually listening live to a sound byte that will be heard over and over again for generations to come.

What a day, the next morning. It’s all quiet.

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