Born Geek

Carvers Creek State Park

October 31, 2016

Back in September, my wife and I visited the newest state park in North Carolina, Carvers Creek. Located near Fayetteville, this state park is still in its infancy. It was a very popular place to hike, however, as we found it fairly crowded the day we visited. I’ve posted some photos from our visit.

Green Chicken Soup

October 9, 2016

I grew up eating this soup, which also goes by the name chicken soup with herbs. My family, however, called it “green chicken soup” because the soup has a greenish hue to it. This is a favorite!

  • 2-3 cups diced, cooked chicken
  • 1 cup raw rice
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups milk (*)
  • 2 cups cream (*)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tsp. chives
  • 4 tsp. marjoram
  • 2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Green onions (optional)

(*) Can substitute 1 quart of half-and-half for these two ingredients

Start by cooking rice separately. We do this by combining 1 cup of rice, 2 cups water, and 1/2 Tbsp. salt in a Pyrex cooking dish, covered, microwaving for 18 minutes on 50% power.

While rice is cooking, and in a large saucepan, dutch oven, or boiling pot, melt butter and blend in the flour. Cook this roux for one minute. Add the milk and cream and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture thickens. Add the chicken stock, cooked rice, chicken, chives, marjoram, dill, nutmeg, and turmeric. Green onions may also be added, if desired. Stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be garnished with chopped parsley and/or toasted sesame seeds. Pairs well with hearty breads.

This soup is very thick (more like a stew), so when reheating it, you may need to thin with milk or water (it thickens as it sits in the refrigerator).

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A New User’s Guide to Stack Overflow

September 26, 2016

Last week, while on vacation in the northwestern corner of the United States, I was notified by a few people that my article Stack Overflow Hates New Users had made it onto a news site I was previously unfamiliar with, hackernoon (actually, the article was a part of a longer piece entitled The decline of Stack Overflow). It’s rather amusing that an article I wrote over four years ago is still being cited by people, and I think that says a lot about the community surrounding the venerable question and answer site. I’ve been a user at said site for over four and a half years, and I have a few additional things I’d like to discuss.

Seeing as I have already written about things I learned using Stack Overflow, a list of my gripes with Stack Overflow, and a few suggested improvements for Stack Overflow, I won’t rehash those here. What I would like to talk about, however, is how I think new users should approach the Stack Overflow experience:

Search, Search, and Search Again

I cannot stress this point enough. Before you ask a question on the site, search it to see if a similar question has already been asked. Over 95% of the time, at least one person will have already asked a question that should point you in the right direction. Don’t use the built-in search, by the way; like many site search boxes, it’s pretty lousy. Search with Google using the site:stackoverflow.com operator, and include any relevant keywords that could narrow your search (searching is an art form and non-trivial!).

Ask Detailed Questions

This is probably the biggest mistake new users make: they don’t provide enough detail. Asking detailed questions takes some practice to master (I still haven’t mastered this). Before you click that “Ask Question” button, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my question clear, concise, and easy to read?
  2. Have I mentioned what I’ve tried in the question I’m about to post?
  3. Have I provided all relevant details about my question (any specific library versions, or specific database flavors, or the operating system in use, etc.)?
  4. Do I have an idea of the direction to head, or am I flying blind? Have I made it known in my question that I know (or don’t know) where to go?
  5. Where else have I looked for solutions? Did I mention these in my question?

Being short and to the point, yet detailed, is a difficult balance to achieve, but find that balance and you’ll reap the rewards.

Be Patient

It’s very difficult to get a lot of rep points in the beginning, so be patient; building trust takes time. Set mini-goals for yourself. I personally set a goal to get to 2000 rep points so I could edit other posts without having to have my edits approved. Once I reached that goal, I stopped worrying about points altogether (it’s not worth worrying about)! Also, be courteous to everyone, even the jerks on the site (of which there are a number). Know-it-alls tend to like to flaunt their intelligence, and Stack Overflow is an outlet through which they can scratch that itch.

Join a Sister Site

I’m a big fan of Arqade, a sister site to Stack Overflow focused on video games. The community there is much more friendly and welcoming, and if you earn enough reputation at a site like that (only 200 points), you’ll automatically get 100 bonus points on every other Stack Exchange site!

Stack Overflow is a great resource to use, but it’s one that I keep at arm’s length. These days, I tend to ask more questions than I answer, and I often find answers to questions I have through other people’s postings. It’s easy to get swept up in the competitiveness of the site at the beginning, but if you avoid doing that, you’ll have a much more pleasant experience.

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Merchants Millpond State Park Photos

July 11, 2016

Earlier this year, my wife and I spent some time in north-eastern North Carolina on vacation. While there, we visited Merchants Millpond state park, which I would rank among the most scenic in the state. The day we visited happened to be the centennial celebration for the park, so the crowd was larger than usual. That said, we had a fantastic time. We rented a canoe and explored the pond, making this outing among my favorite state park visits to date. Here’s the accompanying photo album.

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

July 10, 2016

Last December, on a particularly warm day, my wife and I visited Cliffs of the Neuse state park. Located just south of Goldsboro, North Carolina, this park has some very interesting geography. High cliffs tower 90 feet over the Neuse river, in an otherwise flat area of the state. As usual, we took along our cameras, and this album is the result.

I’m backlogged on photos, so expect more in the coming days and weeks (I have 10 more albums to post!).

NC Zoo Macros

May 31, 2016

I’ve posted some macro photos from a trip to the zoo last fall. I’m woefully behind in my photo posting, but I hope to remedy that in the near future.

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Contact Form Issues?

March 26, 2016

I’ve seen a couple of different reports here that the contact form isn’t working properly. That said, the form seems to work for me in the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, and IE. If you have tried to contact me via the form and gotten an error, please leave a comment with this post. I’d love to know what browser you see the issue in, and what the error is. Thanks.

Googlebar Lite Documentation Updates

February 17, 2016

I have updated several of the documentation pages for Googlebar Lite. A number of screenshots have been updated, and the documentation on Googlebar Lite options has been updated to reflect a number of new options that have appeared over the past few releases. If any of the existing documentation isn’t clear, or you feel that a specific topic is missing, let me know.

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