greg hughes - dot - net
The contents of this site represent my own thoughts and opinions, not those of anyone else - like my employer - or even my dog for that matter. Besides, the dog would post things that make sense. I don't.
Friday, 30 June 2006
Wednesday, 28 June 2006
Time sure flies when you're having fun (or when you're working like crazy). I can't believe it's already here: Gnomedex starts Thursday evening, and I'll be heading to Seattle Thursday afternoon to check into the hotel and disconnect from the rest of the world and plug into the ultimate geek fest. It looks to be a very interesting and exciting time. I am sure Chris and Ponzi will once again outdo the past shows.
If you'll be there, let me know. My mobile number is over on the right side of this blog, as is my email address. Or just comment here.
Monday, 19 June 2006
Now, this is a great idea. Heard about it today on Startup Nation (which is a great radio show and podcast, by the way):
VocationVacations allows people to test-drive their dream job completely risk-free. A VocationVacation isn’t job-shadowing, and it isn’t a fantasy camp. Instead, “Vocationers” work one-on-one with a credentialed mentor to see what their dream job is really like. Currently, the company offers more than 200 packages in 31 states – and is growing each month including: TV producer, brew master, dog trainer, B&B owner, professional photographer, comedy club owner, race team pit crew member, baseball team general manager, chocolatier, sports announcer, white water rafting outfitter, animal shelter director, costume designer, talent agent, horse trainer, wine maker, baker, private investigator, film events producer, cheese maker, wine retailer, fishing outfitter, wedding coordinator and many more.
See what might fit your desires with their Dream Job Finder.
Looks very interesting. I'll have to dig into this and maybe try something out.
Sunday, 18 June 2006
I called my dad this evening to wish him happy Fathers Day and we talked for a while, which was cool. We don't get to do that as often as we'd like sometimes, and I always enjoy chatting with him about whatever's going on. Right now they're busy completely renovating a house they bought - like as in gutting the whole thing and redesigning and rebuilding. Quite the project.
Anyhow, it's Father's Day, and it's a complicated day for me. When I called my dad passed along my wishes to him, he reflected them back to me. I think he knows how important that is to me, or at least I hope he does. Most people don't know about me being a dad, and the whole story behind that. I don't often get a chance to talk about Brian, my foster son whom I adopted several years back. He died about six years ago. Some people would say he died of depression. Suicide's a hard word to say out loud in context. It's been a journey, both before and since he died.
The one things that's kept me going in the years since is the group of guys Brian knew before he died, people whose lives he touched enough for them to stick around and hang out with me from time to time, even these many years later. They're all older now, adults out on their own in one way or another. One's on an aircraft carrier on the Pacific today. Another is driving a big rig to southern California right now. Others are here in town going to college and working, still others have moved on, and so it goes. In their own ways, they each stay in touch. I am proud to call them my friends.
A co-worker sent me a quick email on Friday, and it has to be one of the most thoughtful, nicest things anyone's said to me in quite a while. And she didn't send it because she works in HR and has to do these things. She sent it because she really cares. She remembered and went out of her way to say something. You can't put a value on that...
"Just want to reach out to you with a few words given that Father’s Day is Sunday. I hope that you celebrate knowing that you’ll forever be a Dad. And not only did you touch your son’s life, but you continue to touch the lives of those boys with whom you interact today, and this blessing should be celebrated. May the times you spent with your son fill your heart always."
I am grateful today for friends that care, for Brian's friends that have stuck around over the years, and for the time I had the opportunity to spend with him, however short and however difficult. I hope he's in a better place. I am sure he is.
To all the dads out there, hug your kids, no matter how old or young. And to those of you with dads, if you haven't made that phone call yet or dropped by to say hi, you still have a few minutes and it doesn't have to happen just one Sunday a year. Make the call. Pay the visit. Today or tomorrow, it all counts for the same.
Happy Father's Day.
Come Monday/Tuesday time-frame we should see the new Windows Live Messenger IM client move out of beta and into general "gold" release (it's the new name for what was previously called the MSN Messenger client).
Also starting up at apparently the same time is a cool movie-centric promotional method tying the film and the new software together. Using your Windows Live Messenger IM client, chat and play interactively with Billy Bones and Jack Sparrow, and then recruit someone else to help you continue to uncover secrets. Dead Man's Chest is the name of the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which is set to show in theaters starting on July 7th. Dead Man's Tale is an online pirate IM adventure.
As of Sunday afternoon, the "Billy Bones" IM persona was not actually online, but something tells me it will be very soon.
Arrrrrr!! This could be fun.
(found via LiveSide.net)
Saturday, 17 June 2006
I first discovered and wrote about Pandora some time back, in December or so. Well, since then the Pandora crew has been hard at work and there's more new features that make the great thing they'd developed even better.
To re-cap, Pandora lets you enter the name of a musical artist, and it creates a "station" of similar, complimentary music based on the original selection. That music streams and plays in the web-based player like a radio station. And it's complete songs that play, not just clips. You can also rate the tracks and there are links to do things like buy from iTunes or Amazon. You can also take discovered songs you especially like and create new stations from those.
In a nutshell, use Pandora and you'll find lots of music you'll like that you'd never find otherwise.
But anyhow, about the new stuff...
On the Pandora blog just yesterday they announced some new features, one of which is called Backstage. It's a back-end into much of the information that drives Pandora. Here is how they describe it:
We created Backstage as your door to the music universe that lies behind Pandora. Search for an artist or song to start your exploration.
... whenever you hear a song you love, just click the song, album, or artist name to learn more. That click will take you "backstage" where you can browse an entire universe that tells the story of more than twenty thousand artists and their collected works.
Sample entire CD's, read about the history of your favorite bands, look at artist photos, build your musical profile, buy albums and tracks from iTunes or Amazon, and get all kinds of great recommendations for songs, albums, and artists you might enjoy.
Find something you like? You can create a new station with just a single click. Have some time on your hands? Just want to browse? Want to settle a bet about how many albums The Cure released in the 80's? Hop over to http://www.pandora.com/backstage and search for your favorite artist or song to get started.
Very cool stuff.
There are some other feature tweaks to the main Pandora interface, too. You can now rate a song with a single mouse click. Just mouse over the song you want to rate, and click the thumb (up or down) graphic that pops up. They've also added the ability to create a new station from any artist you encounter while listening. Just click the song menu and select "New Station: from artist" and Pandora will instantly create a new station for you.
And if you're wondering how the Pandora team does all that music comparison and correlation so you can find music you like, well guess what? It's a people-driven process, not automated. No wonder it works! Learn more about the people that manage the musical cataloging here.
What podcasts do you listen to? Which ones actually keep you coming back?
Honestly, there are so few podcasts out there that I can stand to listen to anymore. I deleted a whole slew of podcast subscriptions the other day because I felt like I was wasting massive amounts of time on those occasions when I did listen, and because many of them have simply turned me off completely and therefore got skipped over and never listened to (and honestly that's most of them).
What are my pet peeves? Okay, here's my harsh list for what will cause me to kill the audio before the podcaster even gets started.
- Any podcast that opens with anything even remotely like "your speakers are about to blow up" or "warning, "the sound you're about to hear may cause damage." Give me a break. Everyone says that, and the only potential damage is me pushing a pencil through my ear to drown out the un-original intro.
- Don't say "welcome to the world of (anything)." That's as lame as the movie trailers that start with "In a world..." People laugh and cringe at the same time. And it's sad when cringing is accompanied by uncomfortable laughter.
- Open your show with "blahblah podcast" plus the date and then never use the word podcast ever again. Use of the word "podcast" more than once in any single sentence, or in more than one sentence in a row should be a felony. Agh. I know it's a freakin' podcast, it's not like it magically found its way onto my computer - I had to do all kinds of work to find it and access it. Tell me something I don't know and (here comes the 'o' word again) original.
- As much as it might mean to you, chances are nobody else especially wants you to pontificate about how you and your girlfriend celebrated her 31st birthday this past weekend. In fact, your girlfriend probably doesn't want you saying it either...
- Podcasts about podcasting. Uh, yeah.
- Crappy indie music. Note that I have nothing against independent music if it's good. But any music that's bad (indie or otherwise) is bound to drive away listeners. The operative word is 'crappy.' If you played "We Built This City" on your podcast opener, I'd probably click the 'Close' button, too.
- Seriously, you don't need a blog entry with the same copy/paste text on the page for every episode. I'm reading to see what's different, not what's the same. I already unsubscribed from the podcast, don't tempt me to do the same with the blog.
- Snot noises (sniffling, etc). Seriously, blow your nose or take a decongestant or something.
- "So I thought I would talk about something like that and so ummm yeah so uh I am going to talk about that now..." GAH!
They can't all be that bad...
Anyhow, my new goal is to find 10 awesome podcasts that attract, deserve and retain my attention. Let me know if you have suggestions.
Not exactly my typical blog topic, but I found this to be very interesting, and somehow I think people like Bill and Melinda Gates might think so, too.
It certainly might be worth putting some serious thought and effort into. Is this possibly the changing face of education?
The Fairhaven School in Upper Marlboro, MD is not your typical school. Instead of the standard educational model, this private school takes a radically different approach - Kid-powered learning, if you will. 73 students and a few teachers have turned the traditional model on its proverbial head. Done right, this could be a powerful form and method of education. It sure looks like the kids are well-educated, smart and (perhaps most importantly) involved in their world.
There's a DVD that a film maker made about the school and its students, and you can view the trailer here:
Love it. The bathroom: It's not just for laptops anymore.
Introducing iCarta (click to view larger size). Thank goodness there are people out there inventing these things and making a zillion dollars as a result. Is it really that simple? Who the hell funds these things, anyhow?
- 4 Integrated high performance moisture-free speakers deliver exceptional
clarity and high quality sound
- Charges your iPod while playing music
- Audio selector allows you to play iPod shuffle or other Audio device
- Integrated Bath tissue holder that can be easily folded as a stereo dock
- Requires AC Power (AC Adapter included)
- Easy to remove from Wall Mount
Friday, 16 June 2006
Thursday, 15 June 2006
Stellarium is a free open source planetarium program for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.
It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.
If you're at all into telescopes or the night sky, this one's for you.
in version 0.8.0:
- over 120,000 stars from the Hipparcos catalogue with info
- asterisms and illustrations of the constellations
- images of nebulae
- realistic Milky Way
- very realistic atmosphere, sunrise and sunset
- the planets and their satellites
- a powerful zoom
- time control
- multilingual interface
- scripting to record and play your own shows
- fisheye projection for planetarium domes
- spheric mirror projection for your own dome
- graphical interface and extensive keyboard control
- equatorial and azimuthal grids
- star twinkling
- shooting stars
- eclipse simulation
- skinnable landscapes, now with spheric panorama projection
- add your own deep sky objects, landscapes, constellation images, scripts...
Click the image to view a full size screenshot:
More great screenshots here
What are you doing this July 4th? Well, if you're in the area (meaning the Pacific Northwest) and have a little "crazy" built up inside, here's your invitation to join me and a few of my pyro-friends as we spend the day setting up a big-ol' public fireworks display and firing it off for a community here in northwestern Oregon.
And I don't mean the fireworks you buy at the store or over on the reservation. I mean the real-meal-deal -- a commercial fireworks show bought and paid for by a town for the community.
Come on -- You know that hidden pyro deep down inside is clawing around in there, just trying to get out. You know you can't help it. You must give in. Say yes and experience the smoke, explosions and flames that go into getting those huge aerial displays off the ground and into the air. Or just help dig and bury equipment and then sit back and watch from the best seat in the house. Your choice.
In other words, come spend the 4th of July this year with us. It will be fun.
So - What exactly do you get/have to do?
Well first of all, you don't have to do anything you don't want to. Many people who come to help out are much more interested in setting up and watching the show than actually lighting it off, which is fine. Crew-members (yes, you'll get to truthfully tell people you're on the Pyro crew woohoo!) do everything: Install the mortars (4- and 5-inch mortar tubes for this show), load all the shells (hundreds of them), get trained on how this stuff works and - most importantly - how to be safe (training by yours truly), and finally we actually light the show and man the fire extinguishers - or whatever you are comfortable with. Then we clean it up and head out. By that time, it's been a long, fun day.
On the day of the show, after setup (read: manual labor involving shovels and dirt) is completed, we'll do some knowledge and safety training where you'll get to learn how the components work when you light them, and generally what to expect. It's fun. And fact is, not a lot of people get to do this kind of thing. So, this is my open invitation to the people who read this. Assuming you're 18 or older and you've not been convicted of a felony or are otherwise restricted from handling explosives (seriously, that's a hard-set rule from the feds and there's this piece of paper you'll sign saying you're cool), and assuming you don't show up drunk or anything (again, safety), it's a great time.
So, yeah... If you can talk the significant other into it (or bring him or her with ya), and you're up for it and not like completely freaked out by fire, explosions and lots of noise and smoke, let me know by sending me an email or giving me a call. Both the email link and the phone number are over there on the right side of the page (assuming you're viewing this on the web site).
Links from past shows to get you acclimated and prepared:
So, if Travis' account of things doesn't completely scare you away, be sure to get in touch!
Coolio. See ya there.
Wednesday, 14 June 2006
Thursday, 08 June 2006
Maybe I should head to Chicago for a week.
According to Reuters, the Sheraton Chicago hotel's general manager, Rick Ueno, has devised a rather unique informal program for Crackberry addicts. Check in, hand your Blackberry over to Ueno, and detox for the rest of your time there.
Ueno... said the program which began Wednesday grew out of his own personal BlackBerry addiction. His one-step recovery was switching to a regular cell phone.
"I was really addicted to my BlackBerry. I had an obsession with e-mail," he told Reuters. "Morning and night. There came a time when I didn’t think it was healthy ... I quit cold turkey."
Ueno said he would take personal charge of any BlackBerrys or related devices guests want to surrender and place them in his office locked up until their return is requested. There is no charge.
"I run a hotel with over 900 employees and thousands of guests. I think I’m more effective. I feel better. I sleep better. My family likes it," he said of his post-BlackBerry life.
He might be onto something...
I've made three trips from Portland, Oregon (where I live) to Washington DC in the past month. I love DC, but that's enough for me for now. Especially when you add in all the other trips I've made in-between. Try expecting to fly from DC to Omaha, but getting to Chicago and finding out your flight to Omaha was cancelled, so you decide to fly to Kansas City and drive to Omaha. at 1 a.m., then five hours later you get back on a plane to fly to your next stop
Crazy. I have spent most of the past couple months on the road. Or in the air, as the case may be.
Anyhow, time for a couple days off, no matter how much I may be needed elsewhere, so I am heading up to Scranton, PA to catch back up with my friend, Mary Beth. Her brother's getting married at West Point this weekend so we'll be up that way for a couple of days. What a cool place to get married. He graduated there last year and is an officer in the U.S. Army in Arizona. It will be a fun weekend.
Then it's back home so my dogs and cat can stare at me in disdain again for a day or two. Heh.
© Copyright 2006 Greg Hughes
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
This page was rendered at 06/30/2006 20:47:53 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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"Computers used to take up entire buildings, now they just take up our entire lives."
"So how do you know what is the right path to choose to get the result that you desire? And the honest answer is this... You won't. And accepting that greatly eases the anxiety of your life experience."
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