Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Many people already know that I hold fireworks display operator/pyrotechnician licenses in both Oregon and Washington. So, every year I "shoot" a few (or more) large public display shows. In other words, the professional shows that cost quite a bit of money and make big noises and splashes of light.

Every year I invite people to come help me with the operation of the show on July 4th. It's a fun and exciting way to spend Independence Day, and it's not often that people get a chance to set up, load and shoot a big fireworks show.

But, here's your chance. If you're interested in joining me for July 4th in Des Moines, Washington (which is just south of SeaTac airport and north of Federal Way) to set up, fire and clean up a big show for the city, let me know by sending me an email or giving me a call! My contact info is in the sidebar of this site. We shoot this particular show off the end of a pier over the water. We'll start in the morning and load all the equipment down to the end of the pier, shoot the show and then remove the equipment and clean things up.

It's a bit of work, but it's also a truly unique experience and a whole lot of fun. Heck, how often do you get to blow up thousands of dollars of someone else's stuff? You'll handle the shells, set up and load the mortars, help wire them all up to the firing equipment, learn all about how they work, participate in a full set of safety lessons, and - most importantly - you'll be a key part of bringing an awesome July 4th celebration to the people of the city of Des Moines.

Feel free to let me know if you might like to participate. Safety always comes first and you will be trained in everything you need to know to safely be a crew member. Don't be bashful, there are a few crew slots open and I welcome your help and participation! The requirements for crew participation (per the U.S. government) are: United States citizen or legal resident, at least 18 years old, no felony convictions, and a few other details that I can explain to anyone who wants to participate.

Thanks, and hope to have you on the crew! Get in touch! To pique your interest, here's a sample video of a show we operated a couple years ago in Walla Walla:



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Fireworks | Random Stuff
Tuesday, May 19, 2009 3:49:36 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, May 06, 2009

If you're in or anywhere close to Portland, Oregon and you care about software development from a coder's perspective, there's a terrific (and FREE) event coming up on May 30th that you should definitely attend: Portland Code Camp 2009.

If you're interested in learning from cool, smart people or if you have some area of code passion you'd like to share with others (no experience necessary - seriously!), then go check it out and sign up now.

The 2009 Portland Code Camp is a free mini-conference that is a community-driven event by, and for people who write software. The event features sessions on all kinds of software and technologies, regardless of language, vendor, or platform. Code camp brings the software development community together, focusing on the common act of creating software. It is designed for all interest, all levels, and all ages.

Be a Presenter! The 2009 Portland Code Camp is a great opportunity to present a session on a piece of code, a technology, or a project that excites you. Share your knowledge and experience with others. If you've never presented in public before, code camp gives you a opportunity in a warm, friendly setting.

About this FREE Community Event in Portland

A. Concept. Portland Code Camp is a community event focused on the needs and interests of the developer community, and where we can learn from each other. Anyone is welcome to attend and anyone can propose a session on any development related topic. Final session selection is based on the interest expressed by those planning to attend. If the developer community is not interested in a topic, it just doesn’t make the ‘cut’.

B. Community. Portland Code Camp is about the developer community. ‘Real’ developers, not business interests guide all stages of planning for the event. And ‘real’ developers (those planning to attend) express their interest in session topics.

C. Cost. Portland Code Camp will always be ‘FREE’ to the developer community. There are no charges to attend any of the Portland Code Camp activities. We do raise funds from Sponsors, but Sponsors have no control over the sessions selected.

D. Sessions. Sessions may range from ‘white board’ discussions to down in the trenches coding. Session presenters should present materials that is their own original or derivative work, free of copyright encumbrances. All session materials, code samples, scripts, even slides, will be made available to attendees. Session presenters should only offer material, including code, that is available to re-use, adapt, and alter for the attendee’s own education, projects and even work.

E. Presenters. Anyone is encouraged to offer a presentation. Portland Code Camp provides a ‘low-key’ opportunity for inexperienced folks to make their first public presentation efforts. Some presenters will be experienced and some will be making their first public presentation. The Portland Code Camp audience is quite supportive of first time presenters. Most presenters will be from the Portland area, while a few may be from outside the area.

F. Code. Portland Code Camp sessions will focus on coding –with few exceptions. We encourage presenters to keep their presentations with the realm of ‘code’; a few sessions may have such informative value that they will be permitted without code. But such sessions will only occur if they garner sufficient interest (see paragraph ‘A’ above).

G. Schedule. Portland Code Camp occurs on evenings and weekends in order to reduce work related scheduling conflicts.



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Geek Out | Tech
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 12:50:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I recently took advantage of an in-store offer to replace my water-damaged 16GB iPhone 3G with a 8GB version for $199 with no contract extensions, just paid the money and walked out with it. And in my case I got to keep the old one, which makes a great WiFi-enabled MP3 player.

Apparently (according to reports) it's now official policy/program now for Apple stores to allow problematic iPhones where the water damage sensors (there are four of them) have been "tripped" (discolored do to extended water exposure) to be replaced with the same size and model for $199. That's a great move for people like me who do things like ski, boat and oh, I dunno... Live in the freakin' rain.

So, if you have a problematic iPhone that you have been told is not covered under warranty, you might be able to take advantage of this policy.

More info here.



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Apple | Mobile | Tech
Tuesday, May 05, 2009 9:21:33 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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When the now-long-forgotten HD disc format wars were just barely getting started, I jumped on the bandwagon early and bought the HD-DVD add-on drive for the Xbox 360 (at the original higher price, even). I also purchased a number of HD movies in the "Red" (HD-DVD) format and soon discovered the wonders of 1080p movies at home on the Xbox 360.

Ultimately, Blu-ray won the battle to determine which of the two competing formats would survive to become the industry standard. Today I rent Netflix movies in Blu-ray format whenever they are available, and there's nothing like the experience of great movies in high-definition in the home theater room with a 120-inch 1080p projected image and the sound cranked up.

I'm one of those people that buys movies I especially like or one that I'll want to watch again in the future. Unless it's really a favorite I'm more likely to rent from Netflix. Ever since the death of the red disc and the day I bought a PS3 (essentially to use as a Blu-ray player), I've wished I could play all my HD movies on the one device, just for simplicity's sake. But it doesn't work that way. I still hope for the day when a Blu-ray drive comes available for the Xbox 360, but I'm not holding my breath or anything.


Today I was reading blog posts from the past couple weeks and I saw that my friend Travis Illig recently mentioned a service from Warner Brothers called Red2Blu that allows you to take your HD-DVD's from that label and trade them in for the Blu-Ray version for a small fee per disc ($4.95). After creating a list of the Warner Brothers HD-DVDs you have at home on their web site and paying the upgrade fee with a credit card, you'll print out the PDF shipping label they provide, and then mail WB the cover art sleeves from the HD-DVDs you're converting to Blu-Ray. A FAQ covering common topics can be found here.

I just printed my shipping label and pulled all my cover art out of the HD-DVD cases. I'll ship it all off to WB tomorrow. It'll be nice to make the movie library a bit more consistent. I'll need to look to see if any of the other publishing companies have a similar program, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that all but three of my HD-DVDs were from the WB label, so I'm pretty well covered. Here are the discs I'm able to convert:



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Movies | Tech
Monday, May 04, 2009 11:25:31 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tech Crunch posted a list of Easter eggs - little hidden software treasures you have to search for inside a program to find. It's a good list, and has a few that I had forgotten about. Among those is what some say is the original software Easter egg (I beg to differ, it might be the first video game Easter egg - but we can save that for another day), from way back in 1979 in the Atari Adventure game (wow, I remember playing that one when it was new!).

Of course, Easter eggs aren't limited to software. DVDs have become a popular place to hide fun little things, too. The Lost DVDs are a good example of discs that have extra stuff you have to poke around to find. Web sites are also often sources of Easter egg fun, and http://www.eeggs.com/ is a good site to find out how to find the in a wide variety of places.

There are nine others in the TechCrunch list, plus a couple more scattered around in the (off-topic) comments. Check it out over at TechCrunch.com.



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Geek Out | Random Stuff | Tech
Sunday, April 12, 2009 5:22:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I had breakfast with a friend the other day. He's been writing some really cool iPhone apps and mentioned that he's wanting to focus for the future on apps that can be written and maintained cross-platform. He'll prefer to leave out the platform-specific "extra" functionality, he said, in order to be able to do the bulk of the work once and maximize the deployable surface area.

I got to thinking about this the rest of the day and came up with a whole list of questions for my friend. It's an interesting and logical approach, and certainly not wrong by any stretch of the means. Contrasted against the common move by devs to focus only on the iPhone platform for example, my friend's approach really makes me think. Now, to be clear, I have no idea what it takes to actually deploy an app to the iPhone and also have a version to deploy on Android or RIM devices, or on the upcoming Palm Pre (which looks really cool, by the way), or whatever. At least not without writing each one from scratch. My friend does, though. What I took from our conversation (as a business guy) was that it can be done at least to some extent, but that doing it in a cost-effective way means limiting functionality on any given platform. I may be oversimplifying, and in fact I probably am.

Then today I noticed that Mike Rowehl, who writes "This is Mobility," just posted an interesting article entitled "Please don't mistake my apathy for a lack of understanding," in which he takes on the recent meme suggesting that mobile developers are blindly leaving platforms other than Apple's behind, suck os Nokia's Ovi Store.

Which leads me to ask the obvious question: "What the heck is Nokia's Ovi Store?"

Granted, I'm not buying tons of mobile devices and deploying them like I used to, and certainly I'm not a mobile developer, but I'm still pretty well plugged-in (irony intended).

My past involvement in cross-platform development and porting of apps taught me that it's almost always a complicated and expensive endeavor. But it's not just building the app for the first time that one has to consider. Maintaining multiple platforms of the same app is can also be prohibitively expensive, unless there's a relatively simple and effective way to build once and deploy in many places/platforms. In the mobile world, it just isn't simple, cost effective and reliable enough (from what I can see).

And honestly, I want to choose the best devices and buy apps that take advantage of all the cool features those devices offer. I don't often want apps that leave out the latest hardware features and software enhancements.

Who's doing cross-platform mobile development and truly making it work? How are you doing it? If you've found the way, drop me a line - I'd like to hear about it.



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Mobile | Tech
Sunday, April 12, 2009 5:03:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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