Sunday, 16 January 2005

Ok, so I can't help but post this one...

Every now and then you see Flash movies and apps that are actually worth the effort put into them. You also see a lot of useless junk. And then you have those occasional truly awesome little uses of the technology - the ones where you know Macromedia just stands back and says, "Now that's why we spent zilions of dollars on the product."

Now, if you're like really easily offended, stop reading and just go somewhere else for a while. You probably shouldn't be in the Internet anyhow. But I mean, what the heck, ya gotta admit this is kinda cool - even cooler if you have a Tablet PC, but still lots-o-fun if you don't. Now, this really is intended for the guys out there, so... uhh, never mind.

Anyhow, already: Go write your name in the snow. Yeah, I mean that way. You know you want to. And all from the warmth of your home or office. Wow. So go do it.


(via Jeremy Zawodny, who calls it Calligrapee)

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Humor | Random Stuff
Sunday, 16 January 2005 08:59:39 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Dave Barry has been writing hilarious stuff for the Miami Herald for years and years. I read his column all the time. He still makes me laugh out loud. Well, Dave's decided to hang up his hat on his regular column, at least for now:

"There comes a time in the life of every writer when he asks himself -- as Shakespeare, Tolstoy and Hemingway all surely asked themselves -- if he has any booger jokes left in him...

"...So this is a great job. And yet I'm quitting it, at least for now. I want to stop before I join the horde of people who think I used to be funnier. And I want to work on some other stuff.

"So for the next year, I won't be writing regular columns, though I hope to weigh in from time to time if something really important happens, such as a cow exploding in a boat toilet.

"At some point in the next year, I hope to figure out whether I want to resume the column. Right now, I truly don't know.

"So in case I don't get to say this later: Thanks to all you editors for printing my column, and thanks especially to all you readers for reading it. You've given me the most wonderful career an English major could hope to have. I am very grateful.

"And I'm not making that up."

For the record, I think he's just as funny today as he was when I started reading him more than 20 years ago. Thanks, Dave!

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Random Stuff
Sunday, 16 January 2005 08:49:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 13 January 2005

I’ve been an customer for some time, and have always liked their product. I have not used it much in the past, but recently I found a perfect use for their service.

Cops on Top has a team of 13 climbers – police officers and a couple civilians – in Africa on Mt. Kilimanjaro, making a climb to the summit of Africa’s biggest mountain in memory of fallen Officer Isaac Espinoza of the San Francisco Police Department.

They have a satellite phone with them, and are calling in audio blog updates using the sat phone. As soon as they call in an update, it’s posted instantly to the Cops on Top web site’s climbers weblog.

Imagine that – technology now allows a group of people in the furthest corners of the world to instantly file an audio recording update to a web site, so people everywhere can know what’s happening, right now.

I had a configuration problem the other day as I was trying to get the service running for the Cops in Top site, and Eric over at helped out and made a quick fix that allowed us to solve the issue and get the service working. Righ then, right there, solved the problem and made sure it was working for me. True service. Nice.

If you’re geeky and have a blog, give a try – it’s nifty stuff and works well.

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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
Thursday, 13 January 2005 21:41:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 12 January 2005

Forgive the non-tech post, but it’s a pretty good day today and apparently there are a large number of people who are keeping an eye out to see how I am doing after my back surgery last month. I have not posted much about it here, preferring to suffer in private, but for the first time today I feel like I am turning a corner, and it’s a great relief.

I’ve spent the past three weeks fighting what at times has been extreme pain, quite debilitating and agonizing. I had surgery on my L5–S1 disc, which was herniated and pushing pretty hard on the sciatic nerve roots in that joint. The condition made for chronic pain and occasional agonizingly painful periods where I would be left effectively non-functioning. It needed to be fixed.

I had the procedure done three days before Christmas, which was an interesting decision in and of itself, one that had more to do with insurance and coverage before the end of the year than anything. At any rate, after a couple days of feeling pretty good post-op, things got terribly painful the day after Christmas.

Apparently that’s not too unusual. It tends to get worse before it gets better, they say. But that doesn’t help me feel any better. And it got a lot worse for a while.

I have spent the past few weeks with friends living at my house to take care of me and carry me around, followed by dragging myself out now and then to do something like buy food or go to work for a little while. Last week I decided to work from home the last half of the week. I found I could do most (not all) of my work in bed, and that as long as the pain was reasonable I could be fairly productive. But staying at home all the time makes me a little stir crazy.

I went to work the past two days, found a couch to lie on with my laptop instead of sitting in a chair, and confirmed that taking it easy was – in fact – a good thing to do. Today I decided to stay home again and work from here (conference calls, VPNs, remote desktops, instant messaging and email are all amazing tools), and to go to my physical therapy appointment this afternoon.

Today is the first day in three weeks that I can say my pain level is below a 5 on a 10 point scale, all morning. That’s progress. Not to mention relief. There’s nothing quite like living in fear the pain will never go away, especially when you’re not sleeping and can’t put on your own clothes.

But the fact is it’s more about progress than about perfection here. And God willing, if today is an indicator, things are starting to look up – slow improvement, but looking up.

Of course, I have physical therapy in an hour or two, and who knows how I’ll feel after that. Probably worse, but if it means things get better down the road, I will just continue to suffer. With a smile on my face, of course.

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Kineflex Artificial Disc Surgery | Personal Stories
Wednesday, 12 January 2005 13:16:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Gizmodo has posted a tutorial showing impatient iPod owners how to make their existing iPods into an iPod Shuffle. With the new Mac mini announcement, we know a bunch of you will be wanting to reuse existing equipment, so why buy a new iPod Shuffle (or wait for it to ship) when you can have one today?

Pictures available at Gizmodo

(thanks to Travis, who also pointed out these funny links)

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Humor | Tech
Wednesday, 12 January 2005 10:27:39 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 11 January 2005

NOTE: Want to get a free Mac mini? Click here and you can sign up for a marketing program that lets you sign up (under my referral) for a program that you can use to get one for free. Check it out.

Steve Jobs and Apple Computers did the big message thing today, and rolled out some wow-wow stuff. Among the new announcements are the confirmation of the rumored $500 Mac and an even-smaller, simpler and less-expensive iPod Shuffle MP3 player.

The Mac mini is nifty, very mini, and the base model is $499. By the time you outfit it with more RAM, and if you want to be able to burn DVDs or have wireless or Bluetooth capability, you’ll pay more – and it adds up pretty quickly.

A $599 base model includes 40GB more hard drive and a faster G4 processor than the $499 model.

You have to add the keyboard, monitor and mouse on your own. If you already have those items ready to use, that might be a good deal. I’ve done the math, and once you add on what I’d probably want, it leaves me wondering if I should just go with the 17” iMac. This is a lot smaller case, but hey the iMac is basically a monitor with everything built in, and a more powerful processor (the iMac has a 1.6GHz G5 in the base model) so…

The 17” iMac G5 looks like this and sells for $1299 with everything you need (monitor, keyboard, mouse):

17-inch widescreen LCD
1.6GHz PowerPC G5
512K L2 cache
533MHz frontside bus
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
64MB DDR video memory
80GB Serial ATA hard drive
Slot-load Combo Drive

The better-equipped Mac mini looks like this for $599 base, but it’ll end up costing about $1000–$1100 by the time you equip it the same way, but it’s important to keep in mind you’ll get a slower frontside bus, slower RAM, and a less-powerful G4 proc:

1.42GHz PowerPC G4
ATI Radeon 9200 with 32MB DDR video memory
80GB Ultra ATA hard drive
Combo drive
DVI or VGA video output
AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth optional

And $499–$599 doesn’t give you what you need to fire it up and make it work. Add the needed keyboard and mouse (decent ones, assuming you don’t already have what you’d need) and you’re up another $50–$100. An off-brand widescreen 17–inch LCD display will run you $390 or more. An Apple-branded display costs significantly more than that.

If it was a G5 machine, I’d be all over the mini right now, just for size reasons. As it stands, I think I will wait for performance reports from the field. Sure, $500 is a much less expensive entry price, but when you stack the two above models next to each other, well… $500 is still $500, ya know? It’s still important to spend smart.

I’m going to buy a Mac – some kind of Mac. Will it be a mini? Time will tell. But I’ll let someone else do the early-adoption on this one.

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Tuesday, 11 January 2005 22:16:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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