12 December, 2009

Connections Loom

The ability to reconnect with people whom I haven't seen, or frankly thought of, throughout a large part of my life, has become less novel. In novelty's absence arose persistent attraction. For the younger folks, it will never be fresh; it originates as the mundane. Those of my ilk marvel at, "Jeez, how did 30 years go by since I last saw this person?", and the youngers say, "30 years? WTF?! I can't even imagine."

The compiled years are not an insurmountable abyss across which one leaps. They are just the period that passes without really noticing. We travel within a small envelope, a week or two into the past, and a few days or weeks into the future, and with us we carry those with which we interact during that time frame. Everything else is just passing sets -- both stage and mathematical -- and everyone else are entries on the 'Guest Stars' list. We weave our own fabric at our own loom, our threads occasionally intersecting.

Social sites expose the threads, showing us snippets of other designs, through windows of which we imagine we can see the true colors, where we think we can remember the tastes and sounds, yet knowing we are observers watching the show. Allowed to vote or comment, for sure, we needst turn away and again pump the foot pedal, until the realization of isolation is too much to ignore, and again we gaze. Once blind, the gift of sight lures us. We can live without it, as we had always done, but it's just too convenient...too present...to care to try to do so.  The upside of annoying non-productive familiarity beats the freedom of isolation.

01 December, 2009

Netbooks versus Notebooks

A friend of mine asked me to comment on netbooks versus notebooks, so I sent her the below message, slightly modified for this blog.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

    The main attractions I consider in a netbook are price, ease of portability, and battery life.  The down-sides are the inability of them to run any intense apps, especially games. For kids, that might be a big deal. Although it sounds like a good idea, netbooks without hard drives, the ones with the solid state memory, are almost useless. At least get one with a hard drive. Most netbooks of any worth have at least 160GB HD's, such as the Acer's seen here: http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/campaigns/campaigntemplate.asp?CampaignID=1192&SRCCODE=CCEM175MS&cm_mmc=EML-_-Main-_-CCEM175-_-circuit175 . None of them have CD drives, so basically, to install software one has to either copy it, to a thumb drive first, or use an external CD drive. I recommend the later, as it is much easier.  One can find an external CD/DVD drive for between $50-$60, but remember that when you're pricing netbooks.  Thus, the difference in price, between an entry-level notebook, and a decent netbook, might be the difference of an external CD drive.  The point is that, if you're looking at a netbook to get into a PC, for a kid, under a notebook price, one must consider the CD drive when doing so.

    A 6-cell battery lasts longer than a 3-cell battery.  For this reason, always go 6-cell if one can.

    Netbooks are great for accessing the net (thus their name), as they are compact, have long battery lives, and can run basic applications.  Some of them have Windows CE on them, which is the same OS that some hand held devices have.  I would avoid those and instead aim for something with true Windows XP or Windows 7, as they will run more apps.  Installing the fully free and compatible OpenOffice.org (www.openoffice.org) on them, for example, is a great idea, as they are great for doing papers and rudimentary spreadsheets.  However, large spreadsheets are cumbersome, on the little screens.  PowerPoint-type things...dunno, as I haven't tried them, and I don't have a netbook myself (I've just played with them).

    If I had a spare $200 I just might pick one up, for myself, as my aged Gateway laptop has almost no battery life left, and taking it to Starbucks involves plugging it in, holding the power cord in it, as its now loose, etc.  These little netbooks are simply convenient, for email, Facebook, and general Internet browsing, while on the go.  I cannot see spending more than $200-$260 for one though.  At that point one can really start to be in decent notebook country.

    A $299 notebook can be seen here [update: out of stock] (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?Sku=A180-15614) .  Yeah, it's an eMachine; I don't think of it as a fully modern notebook; it only has one processor (versus dual), but it's got more balls than a netbook and satisfies the minimum requirements for running medium level games. and being able to store adocuments documents.

    Hope this helps.

28 November, 2009

The Holidays and Why You Shouldn't Be Stressed

    This recession has made me more centered.  I'm enjoying being frugal, living on cash, versus credit, reducing the amount of money we're spending on Christmas, eating at home more often, making sure to make coffee at home versus picking it up at the gas station, and buying just a small (tall) coffee, at Starbucks (versus a latte),  streaming Netflix content to the home TV's versus going to or renting movies.  None of it has reduced my quality of life.  If nothing else I'm more tuned in, more aware of my surroundings,  more . . . conscious.

    It all comes back to the premise that convenience itself takes one away from experience, and without experiencing, we are merely observers.  Through experience we gain insight, the first step to wisdom. 

    So here's to experiencing.

24 October, 2009

Bill Cosby joins CinchCast

Cosby sends periodic audio updates, from his phone, to CinchCast.
It's kind of like Twitter, only with voice. Way too darn easy. Anyway,
if you go to the site, you can click the 'Play' buttons and play
anything he's said, then comment on it. Same would be true for just
about anyone.

As with Twitter, or any status updates on Facebook or MySpace, I am
ambivalent. I mostly think this sort of thing is distracting, for the
viewer/listener/reader, and self-aggrandizing for the poster. And yet,
both sides of the equation attract me, mildly. Like gravity, it is a
weak force, yet it pulls me in, and with enough of it, it can become
crushing. Of course, it can also keep one grounded...remembering there
are others with whom to share the tick-tock..the on-going entropic march.

Everything in moderation, and all that. With that disclaimer,
experience it at http://www.cinchcast.com/BillCosby .

21 October, 2009

OpenOffice.org and the OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs extension

Many of us use OpenOffice.org as a fantastic, free alternative to MS Office, because it offers compatibility, with MS Office products.  I've recently started using an extension for it that makes it even more attractive to use OpenOffice.org.

'OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs' allows one to export and import documents to Google Docs, Zoho, and WebDAV.  I use it to sync my Google Docs, to my local drive.  I can then edit them, off-line, and then sync the docs back up to my Google Docs.  Google Docs itself uses the open ODT format, so there is no translation needed.  However, because OpenOffice.org can read and write DOC files, translation is not an issue anyway.

I discovered this extension because a friend of mine was looking for a way to sync her Google Docs, to her netbook, for times when WiFi was not available.  Thanks, Cindy, for taking me down this research road!

You can find OpenOffice.org, available for download for LINUX, Windows, and Mac, here: http://download.openoffice.org/index.html

Look here for the extension:  http://extensions.services.openoffice.org/project/ooo2gd

02 October, 2009

Top10 Ways for a Madisonian To Celebrate Her Birthday

Advice I Sent to My Madison, WI. Sister on her Birthday

Top10 Ways for a Madisonian To Celebrate Her Birthday

10 - Picket a Wal-Mart

9 - Secretly visit a Wal-Mart, in the middle of the night, when you think no one you know will be there.  Save numerous dollars.

8 - People-watch on State Street and remember fondly back.

7 - People-watch on State Street and remember that you used to be stoned, just like them, and lament at how, now that you're not, everything is much clearer.

6 - Eat a burrito as big as your head.  Wonder if they have lasers, at the door, that measure your head.

5 - Buy fresh vegetables.

4 - Remark how nice the bus system is, even though you never utilize it yourself.

3 - Recycle something.  Forget that it will likely end up in a landfill anyway, but at least it will travel there in a green truck.

2 - Organize a car-pool to help the environment.  After a couple days of people not showing up on time, farts in enclosed spaces, and personality clashes, return to driving solo.

1 - Look at the doorknobs in the state capitol building.  They say 'Wisconsin' on them.

26 September, 2009

Fall TV off to a decent start - Season Finales too

New Season or New Shows

"Fringe" - Two episodes in, it's settling down a bit. Not sure if I like settling down, but the scripts have been solid if a bit too expository...but that's good for new viewers.

"Dollhouse" - One episode in, a bit confusing at the beginning, with ex-FBI dude jumping from unknown status, to client, then to employee. Obvious editing cuts due to time-constraints. However, great dialog, especially between the 'creator' and 'Whiskey', about her status as a human -- total psychology meets sci-fi time, and pure Whedon. Let's not forget he wrote Toy Story.

"Community" - Two episodes in, the first was fantastic, although heavily spoiled due to promotion. Second episode...not sure I dug it. Seems like the show is shaping up as a series of one-liner put-downs. Hope #3 is better. The cast is great, although the female lead delivered her lines, in episode 2, in rapid fire succession. Seemed like an acting exercise, but I like her, so I'm considering it a one-off or a bad director approval.

"Heroes" - One episode in. I'm still a fan of the show. I'm digging that the guy from "Prison Break" is now on as the head of the carnival freaks. Aside from telekinesis I can't really tell what his tattoo power does, and why it links to "naked-back chick"'s power of apparently being able to read tattoos...given by him...whatever. Anyway, I'm still a fan [one of the few, apparently] of the show, and I like seeing the characters returned to some semblance of normalcy, meaning having actual lives.

"Smallville" - One episode in. It's nice to finally see the damn 'S' on his chest, now in Season 9. A bit confusing when he dove off the building in an attempt to fly, then ended up back in the fortress working on his mental exercises (ala Spock in ST:IV). Would have been nice to see him hit the ground, but probably not in the budget. Story wise? Herky-jerky start, with the Watchtower folks (Green Arrow and the rest) disappearing due to "guilt over Jimmy's death". Kind of whiny. 'S' happens and all that. Still a fan though. Eight years invested means something...but not much, as I think we bailed on 'ER' at year 7 or 8.

"The Vampire Diaries" - Watching it. Some cool stuff. Dawson's Creek meets "Twilight" (oh, wait, "Twilight" is already DC meets Buffy and Underworld, without the Buffy humor..so confusing...). Zero surprises, although the Rob Lowe-like brother is a pleasant high point as a villain. Decent acting. I'll keep watching for a while and see how it pans out.

"Michael & Michael Have Issues" - Lots of good here. Where are the rest of the new episodes? I think there have only been five or six.

"Glee" - Three episodes in. Still strong. The addition of the stud who like MILF's...a LOT...a welcome addition.

"Eastwick" - One episode in, I liked this and actually chuckled often. I think I laughed out loud a couple of times. Sort of Desperate Housewives meets Charmed, with a dash of Old Christine on top. We'll be around for episode two, for sure. Humorous with the potential to be joltingly dark when it needs to be.


"Eureka" - Clearly shot as if it was the SERIES finale; I hope it's not. Haven't heard either way. Perhaps they hadn't, either, during production, and did it as a "just in case". A decent, standard fare episode. I do like that Carter has a steady, or temporarily steady, love interest, although it's nice to move her away so he can start over...if the series continues. Monogamy doesn't make for good action drama, at least not since "Hart to Hart".

"Dark Blue" - Yes. We got to see Carter make a mistake, or sort of a mistake, and the team cover it up. Everyone behaved pretty much as expected, although the level of loyalty might have been a bit over the top for what we viewers have SEEN over the season. Good stuff and hoping for more.

"Warehouse 13" - Good finale right up to five minutes before it ended, when the recording stopped. Turned out some wrestling match ran over, prior to the beginning. Dammit, SyFy Channel! Oh, and there was no re-run scheduled, and that episode is not yet posted to the Free section of U-verse OnDemand. I'll have to wait for that, the re-run, or see if it's online yet. I saw it to the point where McPherson got busted out of the "Bronze Room" (ala Han Solo at the beginning of 'Jedi'), and was "caught" screwing with the computer. A show that I truly didn't think would keep me coming back each week...it succeeded in doing so.

11 July, 2009

What is Camping?

I've always been fascinated with folks' zealous guardianship of the term "camping". When we got our pop-up, I was told, "That's not camping. You gotta be in a tent." A similar conversation ensued when a neighbor was able to walk 100 feet, to a bar, from their tent.  When we got our trailer, I was told, "That's not camping, ya can't be in a bed, and you gotta take a dump in an outhouse." Um..what the heck did the settlers do, on their way across the country?  No fancy outhouses for them. Thus, the formula should, historically, tend toward "If outhouse, or worse, public restroom, exists, then camping = NOT".  So really, unless someone takes a dump, in the woods, and wipes with foliage, one is not camping. Me, I think an old-school definition of the word 'camp' -- numbers 1,2, and 5 at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/camp -- is more general, and gets to the heart of the matter. A temporary dwelling (for the camper, not necessarily for all-time), in a temporary location. Anything else is quibbling. The strong reaction simply comes from the number, and quality, of the AMENITIES, a discussion of which, in both men and women, seems to trigger the "I can survive better without my ____ than you can" friendly competitive banter.

Perhaps this speaks simply to hierarchal primate social positioning behaviors, something we are destined to be wired to do...like taking a dump in the woods, or better yet, Build a Bar by the Camp, and We Will Come.

27 June, 2009

Breathing Room on the Phone

On my lunch break yesterday I found a PNY 4GB microSDHC, at Wal-Mart, for cheap, so I upgraded my phone from the old 1GB card.  Breathing room....

15 June, 2009

Got new life out of my old dog notebook/laptop via Mandriva LINUX

After running numerous cleanup tools, on my Windows XP notebook, uninstalling unneeded software, and still having a boot time of about 15 minutes -- and putting up with it for over a year -- I goog'd up 'free LINUX', downloaded a disc image for the free 'Mandriva LINUX One' package, and spent a day letting it install.  Once installed, I then had to figure out how to get the wireless NIC working, which I ultimately did.  Once configured, I then promptly locked myself out of my user ID and had to goog how to reset myself via the Root user.  All of this occurred over the course of the weekend, when I could get a chance to swing by the little beastie as I was in between other home-related tasks.

Happily, all is well now, and I've got Firefox, OpenOffice.org, and a few other goodies installed.  It's a very fast boot time and very quick performance.

New life out of an old dog.

29 May, 2009

Movie Software Probably Already on Your PC - Windows Movie Maker

A friend of mine recently asked me how to convert an MPG file, to WMV, to play on his media player, asking me what software he should buy.

I encouraged him (in Windows XP), to pull up a 'Run' command (via WindowsKey-R) and enter 'moviemk.exe', and then click 'Ok'.  Windows Movie Maker will then launch.  Next, navigate to 'File|Import Into Collections' and navigate to the desired video.  Once imported, select all the clips (via 'CTRL''A') drag them to the time line at the bottom of the screen.  Add any titles or transitions (to the beginning frame or end frame), and then select 'Save Movie' from the file menu.  Follow the prompts; I suggest showing the 'Advanced' export option and choosing the resolution and bit rate appropriate for one's WMV player.

For this and other tips, officially from Microsoft, see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932614?sd=zune.

14 May, 2009

U-Verse - Four tips for beginners

    A little birdie told me you have had U-verse installed.  Cool.  Feel free to ping me with questions; I've been around the block figuring things out.

    Welcome to the family.

    Brief tips:

  • You can record up to four shows simultaneously, but only one of them can be in HD.
  • You can only have one live HD stream playing, in the house, at any given moment.  Knowing this will save you some heartaches, as one of you might be watching a live HD show, in one room, and the other one, attempting to watch another live HD show, will get a message that there are "too many HD streams being shown right now," and it will inform you to watch an SD show or a recorded show.
  • Check on the 'On Demand' button and scroll to the 'Free' categories.  Lots of stuff for the kids in there!  I got lost in there watching old 80's videos for about a 1/2 hour before I realized I had other things to do.
  • Your Yahoo! login, to update your DVR online, is your new @att.net login.  To see the U-verse button, go to http://my.yahoo.com/.  If you're logged in with your other Yahoo! logins, you'll be confused that you do not see your U-verse stuff.  This stumped me for a while.  So, just log-out, then in with your new @att.net account, and go to the http://my.yahoo.com/ page.  You'll see the U-verse button in your 'Personal Assistant' control panel, the one that has Mail, Weather, News, etc.


02 May, 2009

Thunderbird - Preventing the 'Delete' option from opening the next email

Thunderbird (emailer) has an annoying behavior of automatically opening the next email message -- read or unread -- when one deletes the current message that one is reading.  The problems with this is that one is forced to open an unread message, that they did not choose to read, or they are forced to re-read a message already read...whichever happens to be next.

This is easily correctable.

  1. Install the 'Buttons!' add-on.  You can search for it via Tools|Add-ons|Get Extensions (lower right), or simply go here: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/search?q=buttons!&cat=all
  2. Once installed, open an existing email message.
  3. Right-click any button on the toolbar and select 'Customize'.  The 'Customize Toolbar' window will open.
  4. Drag the button that says 'Delete!', with the red X, from the 'Customize Toolbar' window to the location just to the right of the existing toolbar button that says 'Delete'.  NOTE THAT THE NEW BUTTON HAS AN EXCLAMATION POINT; this is one of the new buttons you installed when you installed the 'Buttons!' add-on.
  5. Drag the 'Delete' button -- the one that DOES NOT have an exclamation point -- to the 'Customize Toolbar' window.  Note you will likely have to move the toolbar window around, periodically, as you drag buttons to and fro.
    I liked the new 'Delete!' button so much that I also replaced my 'Previous', 'Next', 'Reply', 'Reply All', and 'Forward' buttons with their exclamation point equipped equivalents.

26 April, 2009

OpenOffice.org will open MS Access 2007 Documents

    I have Office 2007, at home, Office 2003, at work, and also OpenOffice.org at home.  I found that I needed to open MS Access 2007 files, with OpenOffice.org.

    Because Windows XP (and I think Vista too) does not have the Access 2007 database engine installed, by default -- even if one has Access 2007 installed, as I do -- one has to download and install the newer database engine in order to open Access 2007 files with OpenOffice.org.

    You can get it here:  http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=7554F536-8C28-4598-9B72-EF94E038C891&displaylang=en

    Search this blog for prior occurrences of 'OpenOffice' to read my other postings related to this totally free Office-compatible suite.

17 April, 2009

Movie Trailer: Moon


For you SF buffs, there's an interesting HD trailer for "Moon" available: http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/hdtrailers.html , hopefully still out there by the time you read this.  You'll likely need to let Quicklime cache it for a few minutes prior to hitting 'Play'.

GoodSync & RoboForm - A Great Combination

I've periodically lamented the benefits of both RoboForm and GoodSync, both by Siber Systems.  [For information about RoboForm, search this blog or go to www.roboform.com].  Recently they added an online synchronization capability that utilizes an updated version, of GoodSync that synchronizes one's RoboForm files, out to one's [new] online RoboForm account, then back again.

Because I own multiple copies, of RoboForm -- on multiple PC's, plus a stand-alone version on a U3 USB flash drive -- it had been a bit tedious keeping my RoboForm files synchronized.  Tedious, but not too bad.  Now it's even easier, because instead of using my primary desktop PC as the central repository, I now use my Internet account.  Pretty neat.

For more information see https://online.roboform.com/.

[Note: I'm not affiliated with Siber Systems; I'm just a fan of the software.]

15 April, 2009

U-verse DVR Feature-Set Less Than Impressive

Having had a ReplayTV DVR from 2004-2007, then a DISH DVR from '08-'09, I am less than impressed with the feature set of the Motorola U-verse offering.   I had two shows stop recording, 10 minutes into them, without a visual indication that the recordings were ceasing (other than the red light turning off).  I noticed it, and upon trying to restart the recordings, the machine informed me that the unit was out of space.  I jumped in and started deleting several of the 19 "Little Bear" episodes that had quickly built up for my kid, and I was able to proceed with recording the rest of the two shows.

This confuses me, because several of the shows on my PC had the exclamation point, indicating they were next on the chopping block to be deleted.  By default, the shows are recorded with the "Keep until space is needed" option, but the machine wasn't deleting them as needed.  A pity. 

The inability to restrict the number of shows, for a series, is disappointing.  I've now trained myself to go back in and change the save options, on shows we really want to keep, to "Keep until I delete", just in case the machine actually starts deleting shows when it is supposed to do it.  With the ReplayTV, and even the DISH, I could set a series to keep only four episodes or whatever.  For the News, or talk shows, this is a great feature, and it really saves HD space.

I joined a U-verse users forum and other folks have had the same experiences, so it looks like I'm not "missing anything" with regard to tweaking my settings.  Time will tell if AT&T (or Motorola) enhance the interface.

To end on an up note, I am happy with the quality of the recordings themselves.  We've been watching "Planet Earth", on DiscoveryHD, and it's striking.

25 March, 2009

Switched to U-verse

We made the switch.  I took an afternoon off from work to be home for the installation.  All in all it works well.  I dig being able to program the DVR via the Internet.  The HD is fine.  The phone features are good, although I'd like on-screen (TV) caller ID...they say they're working on that.  The Internet speed is good.

01 March, 2009

Yahoo! Briefcase closing

I've used the Y! briefcase for years, since '00 or so.  Now it's closing, and as of March 31, one's files will no longer be accessible.  Time to go get 'em.  Select all of them, let it chug away, and it'll zip them all up for you.

22 February, 2009

UVerse (AT&T)

I am beginning to research UVerse.  It's not too costly to get out of my DISH contract, and the cash-back rebates available now might make it a wash.  There's something appealing about having phone, TV, and Internet all via one provider.  The flip side is that I have to research the details.  For example, with DISH, I found that the DVR, that services two TV's, will only service one in HD; the other is SD via coax.  That made sense...but the fact of it was somewhat buried in the literature.

Luckily I have a neighbor, who works for AT&T, and I can bounce my questions off her (the poor thing).

15 February, 2009

My old clunky laptop-Rejuvenated with Comodo Internet Suite

Based on a CNET recommendation I pulled AVG Anti-Virus off my laptop and replaced it, and ZoneAlarm, with the free Comodo Suite.  The PC now boots more quickly and runs faster.  I don't know if it's due to both anti-virus and firewall benefiting from "one" application, or whether they run more efficiently, or whether the new apps aren't doing as much to protect me...I dunno...but whatever the case, I am happy (perhaps ignorantly so...dunno).  I just did this today, so the jury's still out on the change's effectiveness.  Here's hoping.  All I know is the laptop just became emminently more usable again.

08 February, 2009

G-Rated Things About My Wife

I am proud of my wife.

  • We went to a movie last night and she was in discomfort over the intense working out she did this week...yet she went out with me anyway. She pushed through her various workouts even though she knew she would be sore. I envy her dedication.
  • I could not have picked a better mother for my kids (and believe me, the interview process was taxing). She both ejected them well and cares for them beautifully. They know they're loved and as secure as one can be, and she's the reason.
  • I work a lot. She's THE anchor at home. Her discipline with all-things-house impresses me, from the physical up-keep to paying the bills.
  • She loves people and makes friends easily. When she gets into a friendship she commits herself emotionally and has an interest in her friends' success. To be counted as her friend is a privilege, and I am one of those so honored. I wonder why I am worthy, but I don't question it.
  • Her stories of the day bring me back to my center. I love listening to them. I chuckle, not at her, but with her.
  • Can anyone say, "The Deal Queen"? Since I first met her I have been bowled over with her ability to explain, to Sales folk, how they miscalculated her stacked coupons. Her math and accounting background contributed to fostering the keenest almost psychic sense of rip-off detection I've ever observed. Never below board, she knows the systems, and works them in an honorable fashion. In the process, she leaves in her wake sometimes embarrassed, but always better educated, clerks, managers, and online service personnel. She cringes when I go to Kohl's and buy a new shirt, because my eyes see "50% off regular price," and her mind's eye sees "75% more than I'd pay". Luckily I keep the receipt and she gets the adjustment later on.
  • I'm not gonna lie; I love her cooking. Screw the stereotypes. She's a great cook, introducing new dishes to her repertoire weekly, due to her great friends contributing recipes and tips, or simply finding something suggested in a magazine or other media outlet.
  • She is the one person with whom I can confide, and she listens and empathizes always, sympathizes when appropriate, and smacks me upside the metaphorical head when deserved. She's my emotional meat thermometer, preventing my spirit-steak from burning to a crisp. [Sorry...I got an appetite, from that last paragraph, and could not escape a culinary metaphor. - editor]
  • Sure, she's kept me from putting up my old Star Trek memorabilia ANYWHERE in the house, prevented movie posters, Zeppelin posters, and the like from gracing our walls, but the net effect is a calm, uncluttered home environment. I dig her color choices. The furniture is serviceable and tasteful (to our tastes). She' my own personal interior decorator.
  • She forces me to participate in social activities...which is good for me. I'd rarely initiate them, but I not-so-secretly dig when she does.

The term "Better Half" is completely legitimate. Without her I'd not be the man I am. I'd not be the man I like. I owe her everything and love her completely. Every day I consider that I got through another one on the sly, and I hope she won't catch on that I'm the one getting the best part of the deal.

Alternate Ending:
Thanks, Chickie. Now go clean that kitchen while I go watch a Bruce Campbell DVD!

31 January, 2009

Mediocrity - What's the Problem

My eldest niece recently made a joke, on Facebook, that she was too mediocre to fill-out one of those "Write 25 interesting things about yourself" forms.  I replied,

"Embrace your mediocrity, Amy. Excellence is simply a spike in the norm. Incompetence is just a dip. Stand in the middle and "get 'er done", Kiddo. The hare is twitchy. The tortoise boring. But the dog out for a walk looks like a happy bit*h. Sure, the leash is some times chafing, and the annoyance on the master's face, as she has to wait for it to take a d*ump, is a bit embarrassing, but screw 'em; 'if they don't want to watch than take the collar off and let me run around,' so thinks it. Or some equivalent, much less defined, in its mediocre -- even for a dog -- little mind. It soon forgets anyway, and goes on with its happy little walk. Maybe it'll even get a treat if it does what The Man tells it to do in a timely enough manner."

28 January, 2009

'Facebook Toolbar' and 'Boost' - Two Free Add-ons for Firefox

Oops.  It turned out I had been using a couple of different add-ons.  So, not to unduly give credit to the wrong add-on, here's how the features actually breaks down, by the two Facebook add-ons I use.  The list is not meant to be complete.  I've found that using these add-ons in tandem makes the most sense for me.
  • Facebook Toolbar for Firefox - Link: http://developers.facebook.com/toolbar/
    • Provides a toolbar with quick links to the main Facebook areas.  There is a toolbar at the top of the browser and another one, with different features, at the bottom of the open Facebook window, although to be honest I am not sure if the bottom toolbar is part of this add-on or the 'Boost' add-on (listed in the second main bullet of this posting, below).
    • Provides pop-up notifications for new friend requests, messages, pokes, event invitations, group invitations, wall writings, and various notifications regarding friends.  It does not offer skins, contrary to my previous posting.
  • Boost for Facebook - Link: http://apps.facebook.com/boostup/
    • Auto-Login for Facebook
    • One-click pokes
    • (beta) Facebook Video Downloader (haven't tried this feature yet)
    • (beta) Homepage Auto-refresher allows one to force a homepage reset every x minutes.  I haven't tried this feature yet, because I hop around often enough, via the Facebook Toolbar's quick links (see above first main bullet) as to make this feature redundant, making me think the bandwidth onus unnecessary.
    • Various Display Settings
      • Skins - This is a really fun feature and keeps it fresh.
      • Apply Light Color to Posts - Applies a secondary color for the skin to wall posts and comments so they stand out.  It makes viewing easier.
      • Hide sponsor and other ads
      • Hide 'People you may know' on homepage.  Personally, I like 'PYMK', so I don't use this option, but I imagine that I'll try it eventually when that section gets exponentially silly to keep around.

Dan previously wrote:
A while ago I added the Facebook Toolbar for Firefox to my Firefox. I had only used it to login automatically to the site. But for fun, I just checked out the options. It has a sidebar, that lists all my friends, and its browser toolbar adds quick links to the various Facebook locations. I find navigating, at Facebook itself, to be non-intuitive, with reference to what is in the content of the 'Home' and 'Profile' sections [Facebook toolbar]. The toolbar makes all that irrelevant, as one can just use the toolbar instead of navigating at the site itself.

I loaded the 'RUSH' (band) skin, finding that there are numerous skins for the thing. [Boost toolbar]

You can download it at the following link, or simply navigate to your Firefox add-ons (Tools|Add-Ons|Get Add-Ons), type in 'Facebook', and click 'see all', then scroll down to it.

Link: http://developers.facebook.com/toolbar/

23 January, 2009

Firefox - 'NASA Night Launch' theme and 'Dark Gmail2 Nasa' Extension - Pretty Neat

Being a space program fan, I use the Firefox - 'NASA Night Launch' theme.  I noticed this morning an add-on, the 'Dark Gmail2 Nasa' Extension, that compliments it.  It basically extends the NASA theme down into the GMail web interface.  I dig it.  While I prefer to do my GMailing through Thunderbird, this will be a cool interface when I am out and about and using my thumb drive's U3 version of Firefox.

Check it out via your Firefox's Themes and Add-ons.

18 January, 2009

3-D TV - News from the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show - CNET

    Cnet's article is good.  My summary:

  • Don't bother buying a 3-D Ready Set today, if you've recently already upgraded your TV.
  • 3-D sports is really cool.  Wearing the glasses works well.
  • Glasses-free 3-D in-home systems are at least 10 years away, due to the need for "at least 50 more pixels" [to provide distinct signals to each eye] "to provide a similarly robust 3D experience without glasses."
    Check out the full article here:  http://ces.cnet.com/8301-19167_1-10142957-100.html

Facebook Article at Yahoo! - Nothing New but Worth a Read

Nothing new is discussed or posited in the article, but it's short and worthy of a quick read.  It's just a re-tread of the "old guard" versus the "embracing new tools crowd" topic, where folks who don't Facebook wonder if the concept is killing in-person interaction or enhancing it.


17 January, 2009

Elasticity: 0 Entropy: 1


 When I changed companies, after 11.5 years, and I cleaned my desk, I went to deposit my little open-bin of rubber bands back to the general stores.  They were all so brittle that pulling them the least bit caused them to break. In that moment, more than any other, did I realize that entropy rules. Only via continual renewal, input of energy, can we fight the tide. We won't stop it, but we'll ride it, ever seeking that perfect half-pipe of experience, so when we ultimately hit the beach, perhaps we'll not have too much sand up our arses.

15 January, 2009

The Future is Indoor Water Parks, You Alien M)*^$@$#!&^%!

Silly Parsec versus Time Thoughts

Scott Martin posted a link to my Facebook page, -

Joel Ward at 8:25am January 14
Sweet. Let's get it in the garage this weekend, put some hemis on it (whatever they are) and see if we can get it down to eleven parsecs!

 Dan Reams at 5:16am January 15
Of course, upon first seeing that film, we all thought, 'Parsecs! That's dumb. A parsec "is a unit of length, equal to just under 31 trillion kilometres, or about 3.26 light years," (courtesy of Wikipedia).' And how could length be associated with time (Don't go there, Joel)? Of course, if we think about 'warp' technology as bending space itself, it all makes sense. If the Kessel Run involves getting from Point A, to Point B, then faster = more bending, or technically getting from Point A, to Point B, over LESSER DISTANCE, as well as (perhaps) lesser time. Of course, it may be that traversing between any two points might take the same amount of experiential TIME, but simply requires more power to the bending. All great, but then, they use the term "Light Speed", which yacks everything up. Okay, off to snow throw....

06 January, 2009


I am SOOOOO hooked on this site:  http://cosmobells.blogspot.com/

Thanks, Joel W., for turning me on to it.

02 January, 2009

Resident Evil 4 - The Buzz

Contrary to my prior post, Paul W.S. Anderson is planning another Resident Evil installment.  Catch the buzz here:  http://movies.ign.com/articles/939/939627p1.html

Milla Jovovich - Not just a pretty zombie slayer - She's got cool tunes

    After viewing Resident Evil: Extinction (part of the DVD trilogy), with a fever of 101, and digging it, I decided to go to Milla Jovovich's interviews, on the web, to see if they are planning on making another one.  Nope.  However, the browsing lead me to her site, and I downloaded 19 of her songs.

    The intro song, upon entering the site, has kind of a Foo Fighters vibe, with a little Garbage thrown in.  I dig it.  I'll throw the rest of the tunes onto my media player and give them a listen.

Her site:  http://www.millaj.com/

Interesting interview regarding her music (I think this interview is from 1994): http://thecelebritycafe.com/interviews/milla.html

More modern interview from around the time of Resident Evil: Extinction (2007): http://www.moviesonline.ca/movienews_12589.html

01 January, 2009

Zune - Mine is Back in Action

Well, my Zune brothers and sisters, aside from Microsoft's mixed messages that the Zune would come back to life around noon today, mine is back up and in action as of right now. 

6:59 AM:
I plugged it in, just before 7:00 AM, and it charged up enough and booted up.  I then launched the Zune PC app, and the Zune is syncing.  I have a lot of podcasts, several video ones, so this should take a while.

7:09 AM:
When it hit 100%, of syncing, the screen went black, and now I'm getting the power plug indicator.  Hmmm.  We all know that it likes to have SOME power in it, even though it's plugged in, so like a car battery I'll let the thing trickle charge and see what happens.

7:12 AM:
The menu came back, and...whoops...there it goes syncing again.  Not the Zune's fault, per say, but the fact that it is syncing simultaneously with the PC software downloading content updates, thus forcing the Zune into a cycle of syncing, chilling, then syncing some more.  I usually launch the Zune software, before I go to bed, and then sync the next morning, which keeps the downloading, to the PC, and the syncing to the Zune, separate in time.  My biggest syncing "problem" is that things like 'Meet the Press' (video) and 'The Digg Reel' (video) take quite a while to convert over to Zune format.  I watch both of them regularly, so I will probably live with it.  I've skinnied down my vids though, the ones that I don't really watch.  Still hopelessly addicted to 'Escapepod' and 'Pseudopod' (audio), and they are quick syncs, so no biggie there.

Anyway, it looks like all is good, except the Zune's clock is now on PST instead of CST.  Once the syncing is done I'll see where I can set the time zone.  I poked around in the PC software and didn't find it.

7:30 AM:
Okay, all my syncing is done.  I reset the clock manually; it had the minutes right, like atomic-time right, but the hours were two off.  I reset it to my time, but I still found no time zone setting.