Monday, November 27, 2006

My Favorite Tools - Day 4

Day 4 - KeePass

KeePass is an open-source password manager that lets you track all of your online accounts and passwords in one secure vault with a master password to access. It has a nice export feature for keeping backups and it includes a strong password generator.

Cheers...

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Favorite Tools - Day 3

Day 3 - StealthRay

I originally installed StealthRay when I was looking for a popup blocker with a few extras. I downloaded the trial from GoDaddy.com but now it looks like their partnership with StarField Tech has ended. Basically, StealthRay keeps my hard drive clean at the end of each day of surfing, creating temp files and other gunk that feels like unnecessary baggage. I haven't taken advantage of all of the features, but I did end up buying a license for this utility as well.

Cheers...

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Favorite Tools - Day 2

Day 2 - SnagIt

Today's installment focuses on advanced screen capturing. In my line of work, I need to send screenshots to lots of individuals not only to prove the error that I'm seeing on my screen but sometimes to prove that what isn't there isn't there. I'm using SnagIt 5.0 even though the latest version is 8.12. It still does a great job and has been worth the $14.95 I paid 6 years ago. (And it doesn't cause you to look like an idiot shipping around 5MB screenshots created with the PrntScrn key..)

Cheers...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Favorite Tools - Day 1

I was recently informed that I'll be eligible for a new laptop during the next quarterly hardware order. I view this with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I know I'll enjoy the new dual-core technology, on the other hand, I hate having to start from scratch configuring all of the "non-corp" software I use to run my life.

So today I'm beginning a series to chronicle all of my favorite tools so I'll have a record of what I need to load. So here we go...

Day 1 - Sciral Consistency

I'm big into To Do lists and the whole David Allen GTD thing. The only problem with most to do lists is that they don't handle recurring tasks very well. Sciral Consistency provides a graphical way to view and sort all of the routine things you want to do, when you want to do them. It also allows you to set your own "grace" period for how long you give yourself to complete a task before you're tardy. It can also be used to simply track how many times you do something or something happens - like how often you go (or don't go) to the gym. Their site also offers some cool freebie calendars that you can print out. I rarely pay for utilities, but this one is worth it.

Cheers...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Killing Two Birds with One Project

Since I used to be well versed in AutoCad, I have been looking for a reason to use Google's SketchUp offering since it came out. I've also had a hard time deciding which of the hundreds of potential projects I want to tackle from MakeZine would be first. This weekend, I had chance to resolve both issues with a single project. The Make Weekend Project Workbench. It's a very basic 8-footer, easy to make and cost me about $35 total. It's constructed of 1 4x8 sheet of 1/2" plywood, 6 - 2x4's and a box of cabinet joining screws. The design can be modified to suit your needs and level of quality and sturdiness. This one took about 2 hours to cut and assemble.

There are a lot of other options for workbenches in SketchUp's 3D Warehouse.

Next I guess I'll need to paint the walls and floor in my basement.

Cheers...

WorkBench

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Glasses, Nose & Mustache Synchronicity

So these three guys I work with, let's call them Sean, Geoff and Kerven (not their real names) are across the street at a pub having lunch. The conversation turns to an obnoxious former colleague, let's call him Barney, who Sean ran into at a training course in Florida or somewhere. Geoff says, "Wow, if I ran into Barney at a training class, I wouldn't go talk to him - in fact, I would probably whip out a pair of those nose and mustache glasses so he wouldn't recognize me." As he was saying this, Kerven noted that the TV behind Sean and Geoff was at that moment, running the Get A Mac ad featuring the actor portraying the PC disguising himself with....a pair of those nose and mustache glasses.

Geoff then says, "Oh crap. Don't tell Milton or he'll put this on his #@&*# blog!"

Cheers...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Winged Migration

Every now and then, I see a movie that I feel compelled to tell others about. I think the last one I strongly referred to friends was the 1998 German film "Run Lola Run" because it was so different and so attention-grabbing. I just watched 2001's "Winged Migration" with my kids and it is an amazing film. (Synchronicity-speaking, there is a scene where a flock of geese are flying down the East River in New York City with the WTC in the background.)

I challenge you to watch the trailer and then not rent this movie. There is also an official site that has lots of information on the migratory patterns of the birds that were filmed. The filmakers and naturalists used the process of "filial imprinting" on some of the birds which allowed them to get incredibly close to these birds while not causing them harm or worry. Definitely worth the 90-minute investment vs 3 episodes of Spongebob.

Cheers...

Friday, September 01, 2006

GO Synchronicity

Hey, the same day I posted about stumbling on the GO to go thing, an article in the Seattle Times came up in my RSS reader about the challenges with programming computers to play GO. There's also a link to a great GO interactive tutorial.

Cheers...

Monday, August 28, 2006

GO on the go...

Remember way back when I wanted to learn how to play the 4,000 year old game of GO? (Sure you do). Well, I discovered an article in my Make: vol. 05 that referenced a self-contained, Live Linux-based, bootable CD-ROM image of GO that you can take anywhere and use on any PC that lets you boot from CD. It's called Hikarunix and the name was inspired by the Japanese manga and anime series Hikaru No Go.

The system also lets you play others online if you can maintain an internet connection when the system comes up.

Cheers...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Tired of making decisions with just Rock, Paper and Scissors?

Then you need RPS25! Same concept as the friendly way to settle disputes without touching each other but with 22 more options. And now there is even an online version that you can play against your friends or the computer.

This of course is another "too much time on my hands" entry...

Cheers...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cool Kitchen Timer

When I was in Seaside this spring break, we happened on a QuincyShop.

My kind of store with cool stuff that no one really needs - like this kitchen timer that looks like a tape measure.

Cheers...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Freefalling

A couple of weeks ago, a buddy of mine celebrated a milestone birthday by jumping out of a plane, not unlike former President Bush. We bailed out at 13,500 feet, fell 120mph for 8,000 feet (like 45-50 seconds) pulled the chute and floated to the ground. The pic is actually of my buddy who paid the extra $95 for a video and stills. I went along for the ride but was too cheap to pay for proof of my ride. If you ever want to experience freefall without a lot (we had 15mins) of training, then tandem skyjumping is for you.

Cheers...

Tandem

Friday, July 14, 2006

It's Duck Season

Our host in China treated us to a traditional favorite for dinner - namely Peking Duck. I wasn't paying attention to what was coming out onto the table until I heard everyone ooh and ahh like a supermodel in a bikini had just walked in, only to turn and see the shiny brown roasted fowl on it's back in the middle of the table. Speaking of Chinese, rather speaking of speaking Chinese, if you're ever considering learning Mandarin, check out this article first for a little level-setting.

Cheers...

Dinner

Monday, July 10, 2006

Changdeokgung Palace

So I've been out of town for a while - spent 10 days in Asia meeting colleagues in Korea, China and Japan. The only stop where I had any sightseeing time was in Seoul. We toured the palace where the last royal ruler of Korea lived with the queen and his 99 wives. Check it out here.

Pecan Heaven

Friday, June 02, 2006

Snappy Searching

Everyone complains about how hard it is sometimes to find things on the web.
Google of course is the master of all things searchable, however, snap.com has an interesting interface that is a cross between a traditional search engine and an RSS reader with preview mode.

Cheers...

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Greatest Generation

In honor of Memorial Day ( formerly known as Decoration Day) I found an online video from May 2005. Tom Brokaw gives a lecture at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, discussing his chronicling of the men and women who came of age during the Great Depression and WWII in his book, "The Greatest Generation". It's worth watching even if you haven't read the book. He also discusses his career as news anchor for NBC.

Oh, and if you want to learn how to make a sailor's monkey fist, go here.

Cheers...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

My First Time

What is it about first times? Songs have been written about it such as Foreigner's "Feels Like the First Time" or Sade's "Never as Good (as the First Time)" and St. Pauli Girl beer uses it in their tagline, "You Never Forget Your First Girl." I guess what makes first times memorable is not the event itself, but the magic feeling you get when it happens.

Take for instance a first time I had yesterday with the waitress at one of my favorite Indian restaurants (No, it's not what you're thinking). I was off work on holiday and I took my wife out for a lovely lunch at this restaurant's Friday afternoon buffet. While we were finishing our meal and I was relating a workplace incident, our waitress came by with the tab. As she was passing behind me and leaning over my left shoulder to place the bill on the table, she belched. It was a closed-mouth belch thank goodness but her upper GI tract was in close enough proximity to my left ear that I felt every reverberation of her faux pas. She said "Excuse me" as if she had cut in front of me while on line at the bank, not like she had just shared curry tainted stomach gas with me. Fortunately, I was able to continue my story by looking directly into my wife's eyes until the waitress was far enough away for us to act stunned.

I'm not sure if this "first" was magical, but it unfortunately will be "unforgettable."

Cheers...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Man on the Moon Synchronicity

My son and 3 of his friends had a group project for Social Studies this week. The assignment was to pick an event of historical significance and then produce a video news story covering the event. The group decided to do a story on the first U.S. moon landing in 1969. They videotaped my son as President Kennedy giving the speech in which he throws out the familiar challenge, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth." They went on to film the mission and landing on our trampoline in the back yard. I helped them transfer the tape to VHS last night and sent them off to school this morning to submit their project. The idea was that the class would watch everyone's news clips in class today.

This afternoon at work, I brought up my browser and noticed that my homepage, BBC News (of course) had a link to "This Day in History" next to a photo of JFK. I clicked on the link and discovered that he had delivered the speech that my son had shown in class today, on May 25, 1961. Check it out here.

Cheers...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hello, Google?

Google SMS (Short Message Service) lets you text message a question to Google and an answer will be sent back faster than you could even get an internet connection on your phone.

Here's how it works:
Simply send a text message to 46645 (googl) in any of the following ways to get the info you're looking for.

Here are some sample search terms:
Local listings: hospital San Jose CA
Phonebook : 2122269817
Driving directions : pasadena CA to santa monica CA
Movies : ice age 94110
Weather : weather dallas tx
Stock quotes : tgt
Q&A : population of Japan
Glossary : define prosimian
Translation : translate coffee in french
Froogle : price mp3 player
Zip code : 94043
Area code : 650
Calculator : 160 pounds * 4000 feet in calories
Currency conversion : 5 usd in yen
Sports: duke, detroit nhl, lakers, sf giants
Help : help
Tips : tips

You can also get driving directions and even ask general questions like "What is Mark Twain's real name?"

Learn more at How to use Google SMS. You can even print out a tip sheet to carry in your wallet.

Cheers...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mini World Cup Stadium

Although we didn't get to visit the Allianz-Arena when we were in Munich last summer, we did drive by at night when it was lit up with its eerie changing colors. With only 23 days left before the start of the World Cup tournament, I offer these photos of a Lego version of the arena.

Cheers...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Google Goes Trendy

Google has announced it's latest offering called Google Trends. With it you can analyze results of how many people were searching for what, when and where. For a simple example, you can see the rising interest in blogs over the past several years. You can even trend multiple items to see if a relationship exists, for example, New Year's Resolutions and Gyms. Or if you're a celebrity stalker, it's easy to see significant times in your favorite celeb's life. Or have your favorite celebs go head-to-head in a popularity deathmatch. (These names were chosen purely at random.)

Or...if you're like me, you'll use Google Trends to validate one of your hypotheses, such as confirming my suspicion that the townspeople of Consett in the northwest of County Durham, England, are smitten with monkeys.

Cheers...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Spring Clean your Hard Drive

How many times have you heard someone say, "I'm a picture guy." The fact is, it is much easier for our brains to derive logical conclusions from shapes and colors than it is from numbers. So if your hard drive is pining for some free space, check out SequoiaView from The Netherlands. It lets you see the files on your disk represented by squares proportional to the file size so you can immediately focus on the mega-megabyte hogs. It also color-codes the squares so you can see what kind of files have a monopoly on your platters.

SequoiaView was developed by the computer science division of the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven and you can download and use it totally free.

Cheers...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Learn a Foreign Language in 100 Words

Since I'm on the word economy kick, here's something from Tony Buzan (the father of mind mapping) who states there are 100 words that account for 50% of the words used in most common conversations. Master these in any language and you'll be on your way to being able to manage in a foreign land.

1. A,an 2. After 3. Again 4. All 5. Almost
6. Also 7. Always 8. And 9. Because 10. Before
11. Big 12. But 13. (I) can 14. (I) come 15. Either/or
16. (I) find 17. First 18. For 19. Friend 20. From
21. (I) go 22. Good 23. Good-bye 24. Happy 25. (I) have
26. He 27. Hello 28. Here 29. How 30. I
31. (I) am 32. If 33. In 34. (I) know 35. Last
36. (I) like 37. Little 38. (I) love 39. (I) make 40. Many
41. One 42. More 43. Most 44. Much 45. My
46. New 47. No 48. Not 49. Now 50. Of
51. Often 52. On 53. One 54. Only 55. Or
56. Other 57. Our 58. Out 59. Over 60. People
61. Place 62. Please 63. Same 64. (I) see 65. She
66. So 67. Some 68. Sometimes 69. Still 70. Such
71. (I) tell 72. Thank you 73. That 74. The 75. Their
76. Them 77. Then 78. There is 79. They 80. Thing
81. (I) think 82. This 83. Time 84. To 85. Under
86. Up 87. Us 88. (I) use 89. Very 90. We
91. What 92. When 93. Where 94. Which 95. Who
96. Why 97. With 98. Yes 99. You 100. Your

There are also many other tips on learning a foreign language at Mind Tools.

If you have some spare coin, you can do what I'm doing and try the Rosetta Stone Dynamic Immersion Method of learning a foreign language. (They have free demos on their site if you're short of spare coin.)

Annyeonghi kyeseyo...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Belated Birthday Wishes for The Queen

I know you're thinking that because our beloved Queen's 80th Birthday was April 21, you're in an awkward position not having sent your well wishes in time. Don't worry, because she's decided once again to have an Official Birthday in June. (This time on the 17th.)

To learn more about the woman who would be Queen at age 25, visit the official 80th Birthday site.

If you'd prefer to dash off a quick greeting to HRH, use this.

Cheers...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Very Small Quotes

I've been including motivational quotes in my e-mail sig with the philosophy that if what I'm saying in my note turns out to be useless crap, I ought to offer something of value if possible. The trick has been selecting short quotes that pack effective wisdom but don't lead to people accusing me of wasting everyone's time reading the book excerpts that I'm including on all of my mails.

This lead me to William Frank's list of "The World's Best Quotes in 1-10 Words."

My favorite is number 10 since I have a copy of "The Daily Drucker" on my desk:


Do first things first, and second things not at all.
—Peter Drucker.

It's so easy to do what's familiar, comfortable, or fun. It's so difficult, sometimes, to tackle the highest priority. And sometimes it's difficult to even know your top priorities; hence, the phrase, "I can't see the forest for the trees."

We suffer from over-choice: 67 varieties of toothpaste, 487 styles of shoes, 186 brands of cell phones with 137 telephone companies. We demand more variety than we could possibly need or want; and as a result, we get lost in options, opportunities, and choices. There are 87 varieties of lawyers, and 75 specialties inside medicine. The world of work can be a confusing landscape.

When you're flooded with career possibilities, or "swimming up Niagara Falls," it's good to spend time answering questions like, "What is the best and highest use of my talents?" and, "How can I make a bigger impact?"

If you can't establish clear career priorities by yourself, use friends and business acquaintances as a sounding board. They will want to help. Ask them to help you determine your "first things" and "second things." Or seek an outside coach or advisor to help you focus. Because if you don't know what your "first things" are, you simply can't do them FIRST.

Cheers...

Monday, May 08, 2006

It's a Gift to Clean Simple

If you've never gotten in touch with your Fly Lady side, you may be able to pick up a few quick tips to help keep your house looking clean with the help of Real Simple magazine.

My favorite is the "Clean Your House in 19 Minutes" article. (I think this only applies if your house starts off in museum-like condition.)

Cheers...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ping-Pong or Table Tennis

This past Christmas we received a gift that is a green table with a net, some wooden paddles with rubber pads, and some round celluloid balls. We thought we were playing the game of Ping-Pong. It turns out we may actually be participating in the sport of Table Tennis. Apparently this is a holy war that has been waged since the late 1800's. I guess the only thing I am really concerned about is that everyone that I play would follow the same rules (laws?) of the game (sport?). So here are the rules I've attempted to enforce in my basement arena (stadium?).

Cheers...

Friday, May 05, 2006

w00t du jour

Here's an interesting business model which borrows from high end gourmet restaurants. Serve up only one main dish for dinner each day.

woot.com does just that - selling a single different item each day at insane clearance prices. Most items are computer and electronice gadgetry and some are refurbished. The cool thing is that they never tell you what is going to be sold tomorrow or the next day, forcing you to visit their site every day to satisfy your w00t curiosity - brilliant.

Cheers...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Courtroom Movies

Not sure what triggered this one but here are a few of my favorite trial films.

Breaker Morant (1980) is the true story of the trial and execution of three Australian soldiers during the Second Boer War in 1902.
Read more about Harry 'Breaker' Harbord Morant here.

Anatomy of a Murder (1959) directed by Otto Preminger, this story is about an army lieutenant accused of murdering the man who raped his wife. Jimmy Stewart plays the lawyer for the defense.

12 Angry Men (1957) stars Henry Fonda as 1 of 12 jurors who doesn't think the murder trial they are sitting on is as cut and dried as the other 11 think it is and slowly works to win them over.

...And Justice for All (1979) with Al Pacino as the lawyer who is trying to do the right thing and gets blackmailed into defending a judge that he despises. Jack Warden plays a lunatic judge with a death wish.

The Verdict (1982) Paul Newman as an alcoholic ambulance chaser who gets a chance to redeem himself against all odds.

And my favorite courtroom movie of all time...

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) Gregory Peck stars as Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defending a black man against an undeserved rape charge and his kids against prejudice. The Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee about her life was required reading for me in school. She turned 80 last Friday. If you have some extra cash, you might want to pick up a first edition here.

Cheers...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

eHarmony

No, not the dating site thing, but an electronic view of a unique photography exhibition by Robert Colbert, dealing with the relationship between man and beast. The show is winding down in the Nomadic Museum on the Santa Monica Pier. The museum itself is a work of temporary art constructed from 152 steel cargo containers.

Cheers...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Totally Awesome Prank

There was this guy in high school that I knew that had this bold sense of humor that messed with people's comfort zones. He was the guy that would yell at the girl you told him you thought was cute "Hey he just told me that he thinks you're cute!" "Shut-up, Eric!"

If ever there were 50 or more of his kind in one place, this kind of thing would happen. I know it's only Tuesday, but this gets my vote for funniest story of the week.

Cheers...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

New Logitech Quickcam Orbit MP

Phillip Torrone over at Makezine has some fun with a new webcam that includes face-tracking, live visual effects and avatars. File this under "Wow - that's really cool. What on earth would I use it for?"

Cheers...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Wabbit Wist

I know I'm a little late to the party on social tagging stuff, but here's an interesting visual wishlist called CribCandy which lists cool stuff for your home, that is powered by Wist.

You can use wists to have all your wishlists in one place, from any store on the web.

Also, I'm looking for a term that defines something that is a summary of summaries or an aggregator of aggregators to describe the concept behind this site. They've assembled the top of the top consolidating sites into one site called popurls.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Wiki Wiki Wak

I successfully installed a personal version of MediaWiki on my lab box using Gina Trapani's guide thereby protecting my geek status for at least another 3 months. It utilizes WAMP, an all-in-one PHP/MySQL/Apache installation for Windows. I have been using a beta version of wikidPad on my primary box to track all of my wiki-worthy info.

A friend of mine pointed me to Wiktionary, the lexical companion to the open-content encyclopedia Wikipedia.

According to the Computer Desktop Encyclopedia;

Wiki
A Web site that can be quickly edited by its visitors with simple formatting rules. Developed by Ward Cunningham in the mid-1990s to provide collaborative discussions, there are several "Wiki" tools on the market for creating such sites, including www.editme.com, www.seedwiki.com, www.socialtext.com and www.swiki.net. Cunningham's site is http://c2.com/cgi/wiki.

"Wiki wiki" means "quick" in Hawaiian.

Cheers...

Ginger or Mary Ann?

I'm sure I know who The Ginger People would vote for. After all, this is from their site: "Ginger’s aphrodisiacal properties are tough to prove, but ginger does enhance circulation and has been credited through history with increasing lustful yearnings." So far, I've only tried the original chews, a Southeast Asian treat, which are good as an afternoon pick me up or added to hot water to make a soothing tea.

My next international flavor excursion is planned for a bowl of piping hot McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal.

And if you're up for a quirky spot of tea, try the South African Red Bush or Rooibos.

Cheers...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2 Guys, 7 Marathons, 7 Continents, 7 Days

Yesterday's Boston Marathon triggered memories of this story from 2003. Two British adventurers ran a marathon on all 7 continents in 7 consecutive days finishing off with the New York City Marathon. I remembered this part of the story and wondering if I would have kept going...

"Mike Stroud has started to "pass blood" in the urine. This will be the haemoglobin from red blood cells caused by the crushing of capillaries in the feet each time they hit the road."

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Could this be the end of Mr. Clean?

With all of the new single use bathroom cleaning products on the market these days, they may all soon meet a similar fate thanks to some bathroomologists down under. You've no doubt heard of the self-cleaning oven, now for the self-cleaning bathroom.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The MIT Scholarship you always wanted...

If you're like me and didn't get into MIT you can at least benefit from the free courseware they offer at the MIT OpenCourseWare site.

Or if you'd rather attend Berklee and get free music lessons, then you should go here.

Or maybe you'd like to get smart somewhere else. Then checkout the OpenCourseWare Finder.

Happy brain wrinkles...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In the morning, I'm makin' waffles!

You can't travel South without a stop to a Waffle House. A pecan waffle with some eggs and tabasco, bacon, grits and raisin toast with apple butter is like no other breakfast on Earth.

Pecan Heaven

Looking for a quote on car insurance, mate?

This critter came to visit us out by the pool. If you want to see him and his friends in the wild, I recommend a ride on the SwampVette.

Where are the flies at?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

When in Rome...

Exercising my "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" attitude when I travel, I like to try things that I can only get where I am. So, when we stopped to gas up in Tuskegee, AL, I grabbed a couple Mary Janes and Coconut Long Boys. The Mary Janes are like the original Bit-O-Honey and the Long Boys are like coconut flavored Sugar Babies. You can get retro candy like this from CandyFavorites. I also learned that Necco stands for New England Confectionary Company. I was not aware of that.

White Sox vs Braves

First stop on our Spring Break adventure was to Turner Field in Atlanta to watch a preseason game between the World Champion White Sox and the Atlanta Braves. We all learned how to do the traditional "Tomahawk Chop" with style.

Turner Field

Hook's Barbeque

Continuing the when in Rome theme, we stopped in Opp, AL, home to the Rattlesnake Rodeo, to sample some local fare. In this case it was for some hickory fired pulled pork bbq at Hook's Barbeque on Hwy 331. It was delish...their tagline is "You can smell our butts for miles!"

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Unpimp My Fargo Synchronicity

A friend of mine kept asking if I had seen the new VW ads for the Mark V GTI with the Unpimp My Ride theme ( you can watch them here ) and I had never seen them on TV. So he's over at my house and shows them to me on the Internet and we have a good laugh. Then we're channel surfing and we stop on the G4TV channel to watch a show from England called "Brainiac" where they do a pseudo MythBusters/Consumer Reports/Monty Python thing and 5 mins into the show they play one of the VW commercials we had just been watching.

A couple days later, I'm having lunch with another friend who had told me a couple of weeks ago that the movie "Fargo" was not based on a true story so I told him I had verified his statement by checking the trivia for the movie on IMDb. He said the Coen brothers were pure genius at marketing their product. I said, speaking of genius, have you seen the VW Mark V GTI campaign with the German scientist. He said he had only caught parts of it while channel surfing but recognized the guy as being one of his favorite bad guys in films. I told him I had no idea who he was. My friend looked him up on IMDb and found out that he is Swedish-born Peter Stormare and the number 1 rated movie that he was in was...."Fargo."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Maybe not - but you can know if it is day or night anywhere in the world with Desktop Earth 2.0. This thing is free and gorgeous...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Dinosaur Plant

Here's one to add to your shopping list for that special someone who has one of everything. I bet they don't have a prehistoric evergreen.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Reinventing the Maker in Me

When I was a kid I used to love to tear things apart to see how they worked. I rarely cared for putting them back together - it was the discovery process that motivated me. It was only after I figured out how most stuff worked that I wanted to build. One summer I found a box full of old Popular Mechanics magazines from the 40's and 50's at my Aunt's farm and spent hours paging through the history of do-it-yourselfers and the technology of the mid-century. It was though everyone basement had a lathe, a bandsaw and a welder. When I was in high school, I used to go to the library and read through back issues of Popular Science, which was a little more geared toward electronics and computing. Last month at a used book fair, I purchased a four-volume set of the "Popular Mechanics Illustrated Home Handyman Encyclopedia & Guide Deluxe Library Edition 1962" for $12. It was like time travelling back to my Aunt's farm to leaf through the pages of clever headboards with hidden storage for blankets and 100's of uses for beeswax. Then a couple of weeks later, I received an e-mail alert from my friends at ThinkGeek that Vol.5 of the magazine Make was available. After looking through the table of contents, I knew these were my people. I am planning on purchasing the previous 4 volumes as well as subscribing to future issues. Now my problem is deciding on whether to make the soda bottle rocket, the windmill generator or the jam jar jet engine...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Strategery

I've been researching ancient strategy games to find one other than Mancala, the game of kings, to occupy my time with the kids. One that I haven't played yet but find intriguing is the ancient Chinese game of GO. Check it out here. Of course our favorite strategy game has always been Chess.

The following letters can be rearranged to form a single English word.

pnlleeeesssss

If you give up, go here for the answer.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

In Sync?

For those of you who are a wee bit timid to use the Xcopy commands to synchronize files between your hard drive and jump drives, Microsoft has a cool tool called SyncToy loaded with options.

And if you're tired of long url's breaking when you e-mail them, try out TinyURL which converts them into an alias that will redirect automatically for you. For example, the Xcopy link above is really:

http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/
windows/xp/all/proddocs/en-us/xcopy.mspx

but when I used TinyURL, it became:

http://tinyurl.com/a7e3q

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sketch Swap

I remember when I was a kid, someone sent me a postcard and told me to send a postcard to 5 other people and I would get 200 postcards from around the world. I ended up getting one from Illinois. Anyway, here's a site where you submit a drawing and you're rewarded with someone else's. I drew my standard cartoon ostrich and got back a whale and a boat. Guaranteed for minutes of fun.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Web Goodies Roundup

Here's a few gems from my weekly surfing:

A news analysis tool from The Hive Group.

Want to learn how to make your own photo mosaic? Check out this article over at Engadget.

Best Life Hacks of 2005 can be found here.

Here's an interesting social experiment with people holding up numbers to tell time.

And no pictures yet, but Levi has announced customized jeans that integrate with your iPod complete with built in joystick and retractable earphone cords.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pico de Gallo Privado

Since I seem to be in the midst of a severe synchronicity drought, I offer up to you my private recipe for pico de gallo just in time for SuperBowl Sunday.

"This recipe has been in my family for centuries. It is my pleasure to share it with you now to enjoy with your family."

Ingredients:
8 - 12 Red Tomatoes (~4lbs)
6 - 8 Roma Tomatoes
1 Medium White Onion
1 Orange Bell Pepper
6 - 8 Jalapeno Peppers
3 Yellow Chili Peppers
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Bunch of Cilantro
6oz can of Tomato Paste
Salt
Distilled White Vinegar

Optional:
Fingerhot Peppers
Serrano Peppers

Instructions:
Using a food processor, chop the tomatoes until they become like a thick milkshake and add to a large bowl. Use the food processor to coarsely chop the onion and peppers. Be careful not to chop the peppers too long or they will liquify. Add the onion and peppers to the bowl of tomatoes. Using a garlic press, add the 3 cloves of garlic to the bowl. Add 1 cup white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt to the bowl and stir. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring at least twice. Using a ladle and a strainer, strain the mixture one ladle at a time over the sink and transfer the strained mixture to your serving bowl. Do this until you have strained the entire bowl. To the serving bowl, add the 6oz can of tomato paste and stir until well blended. The mixture should be quite thick at this point. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro and blend well. To finish, add enough white vinegar to produce the desired consistency. Chill before serving with white corn tortilla chips and and ice cold beer on a hot summer's day. The jalapenos and yellow chili peppers from the base for the pepper taste and temperature. You can adjust this to you liking by adding more or less of each or adding other peppers such as fingerhots and serranos. I usually add 3 fingerhots when I am making this for my friends. This pico de gallo is also delicious over fried eggs and in omelettes.

Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Scattering Goblins

The propeller-heads over at Project Offset have added a new test to their epic first person shooter fantasy game that involves hundreds of unique Goblins scattering to avoid getting shot by your crossbow.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Blast from the Past

Every so often, someone will discover a fish or a bird that has been thought to be extinct. I had a similar experience at my son's basketball game yesterday. The guy running the scoreboard for the game next to ours was sporting one of these.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Happy Birthday Mozart


Given that we are celebrating Wolfgang's 250th birthday this week, here's my photo of his birthplace that I took when we visited Salzburg last year. The Mozart Project is a great place to visit if you're new to the life of this genius.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Google Video

If you haven't checked out (aka wasted valuable time) browsing the Google Video Beta project, it's worth a visit. One of the kookiest finds has to do with the free-running matrix-style acrobatics known as Parkour.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Binary Clock

The folks at Anelace have come up with some cool binary timepieces that are certain to illicit a "What is that?" from anyone who walks by your desk.

Friday, January 13, 2006

iTunes Interface

Here's a slick front-end to the XML feed that iTunes publishes about the Top 100 songs. (You may have to update your Java install to get it to work right) The rank is represented by size, color and position on the grid.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Next Christmas?

So you didn't get exactly what you wanted this year? Start early and tell your family and friends that the only thing you want next year is the Hydra Spyder. Who wouldn't?