Friday, December 31, 2004

Oh god I forgot about First Night

Akron is one of the towns that does First Night - an alcohol free family way to spend New Year's Eve. They just started the fireworks for the kids. Sounds like a war zone.

Been awhile

It has been awhile since last I posted. Between the silly season and my cold/sinus infection I have not felt like doing too much. In fact tonight, the biggest party night of the year, I am home posting on my blog. Lame or what? I'm not much of a party person anyways. So let me catch up on a few things.

The tsunamis

I don't feel there is much that can be said for this. To me there is no way in mere words to capture the huge loss of life from this. 100,000+ dead, and I am sure that number will continue to climb. I lack the words to talk about this.

The PDA is dead. Long live the PDA

I have been reading about how everyone is predicting that the PDA, such as the Pocket PC and Palm devices, will be going away. Most people think that the current functionality will be rolled into either cell phones or iPod like devices. Personally I think they are all nuts, to a point.

Yes, I think we will see many of the base feature roll into both cell phones & MP3 players. It makes some sense to have your address book on your cell phone. For many they maybe able to get by with somewhat limited functionality. Sure, we can combine a cell phone, multi-megapixal camera, PDA, media player (MP3 & video), pager/blueberry type thing into one unit. Is it a good idea though? I don't think so. Here is why:

Form factor - those little thumb keyboards are not for everyone, particularly those of us with fat thumbs. Most multi-use units end up sacrificing some thing. Cell phones with PDA get very fat, or they use a little screen. PDA sized screens are better for viewing videos, and maybe that would make some kind of sense, although for other reasons that is not a good melding. Also, how can I check something on my PDA if it is built into my cell phone while talking on the phone?

Battery Life - Probably the number one reason. Everyone already complains about the battery life of cell phones, PDA, iPods (especially iPods), etc. Is combining these units going to some how make the battery life longer? Is carrying around additional batteries any better than carrying around an extra device?

- The more functions a unit has the bigger the impact on your life if it is lost or broken, and of course the more you have to come up with to replace it.

Upgradability - Will these new devices be able to take on expanded software like a PDA? Remember that every function you move will mean less space for other things like music. Also, what about when the PDA functions on your frankenpod just don't cut it? What about the latest in greatest cellphone? Remember that as devices merge the complexity starts to go up, so the latest and greatest features of any class of devices will have to wait to make it into the frankenpod.

Overall I think that they will keep combining functionality into several devices. For someone who only needs a PDA for simple calander & address book these new frankenpods (I just like the way the word sounds) maybe fine. However for those who either crave the latest and greatest or need to do some heavier lifting with their PDA the separate device route will still be used. Actually I think the biggest problem with the frankenpods is battery life. Until they can get the device to have at least 8 hours of mixed use the frankenpods will be religated to minimal use.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Another snowy day

I spent all of today at home just getting some things wrapped up and get ready to go back to work. It was nice to get some things wrapped up. Most of the week was spent getting ready for Christmas so too many things sat around. I still need to spend some time tonight getting things wrapped up before going to bed so I am going to cut this short.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

I have gotten my overkill of holiday cheer for the last 2 days.

Christmas eve my sister in law has her sisters (and their kids) over for a "take-out pot luck". What is a take out pot luck? Everyone brings over some of their favorite take out food (except my sister in law who has to do barbecue meatballs). Mostly the kids play video games, and the adults talk. My brother and I are the odd men out, but no one seems to care. Gifts are exchanged and then my nieces and nephews are ducted taped to nestled in bed. I usually drop my gifts off that night as well.

Christmas day is spent over at my brother's house. I head over there in the morning so we can open gifts. In addition to my Secret Santa gift I got a shop vac (needed with my new furnace) and a 2 pound summer sausage from Hickory Farms. The sausage has been something of a running joke with my family. I am the only one who likes them, and this time of year my brother usually manages to find some dirt cheap. Now usually it is the smaller ones and I eat about half to 2/3 of it before it turns bad (yes, summer sausage can turn bad). The only time I have finished a summer sausage before it turned green and moldy was when I chopped it up to include in a chef salad for a week.

Pickings may have seemed a bit slim for me this year, but that is ok. I know my brother got slammed with expenses this year and I would rather he spend his money on the kids than me. Plus, frankly, I do not have a lot of room at my house for stuff. I try to be selective on what I let in, even CD & DVD wise anymore. I am going to be going through another round of purging this winter, but even then I may have to dump some CDs and DVDs just because the shelves are getting full. Thing is I pretty much my music & movies are the ones that I really want. There maybe a few I could dump. Maybe an iPod would help.

I also wanted to mention an article in the Denver Post (reprinted in my local paper) about Monster Cable's over zealous pursuit of a trademark. I was disgusted by this. Seems that anyone who is in any way using the term Monster in a business sense is getting sued, even when there is absolutely no way that there would be confusion between Monster Cable and the other company. The biggest WTF I had was Disney getting sued for "Monsters, Inc". I am going to try and put this in as many people's ears as I can because I think these people need to be stopped.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Long overdue update

It has been awhile since I have updated this page. So an update onthe last few days.

First off I want to thank Heather Lokey for my gift in ThinkBlank's Secret Santa. I could not find your blog, so hopefully you are reading this. Just got it today. I'm looking forward to listening to it tomorrow. I have been a fan of Bob River's Twisted Christmas series for awhile now.

On Monday I turned 40. Wildman that I am I spent the night at home reading. Probably a good thing because I am coming down with a cold/sinus infection that has really zapped me. Plus the last couple of days the weather has been crappy. Eight inches of snow has turned into 4 inches of slush covered with 1/4 inch of frozen rain. The cool thing that happened was my screen door handle was frozen, I thought I had it opened, and it caught on the latch and snapped off in my hand. So for the rest of the winter I will not have a handle on my back screen door, which also means the door is going to be flopping around in the wind.

Anyways I just wanted to do a quick update and to post this meme. I found it at Tenth-Muse.
I have some other memes & other interesting things to post in the upcoming days.

The "Too Lazy to Trim the Tree" Meme

Three Names You Go By:
1. Howard
2. Woody
3. Hey you

Three Screennames You Have:
1. Yea, Right
2. Like I would tell you
3. Even if I had any

Three Things You Like About Yourself:
1. My sense of humor
2. My eyes
3. My personality

Three Things You Dislike About Yourself:
1. My shyness
2. My intolerence of stupidity
3. My weight

Three Parts of Your Heritage:
1. German
2. Scottish
3. mmmm... Canadian, eh? (At least that I have proven.)

Three Things That Scare You:
1. Fundamentalists
2. Dogs that I don't know
3. Mmm.... War

Three of Your Everyday Essentials
1. Tea
2. Computer
3. Walking

Three Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. Jeans
2. Sweatshirt
3. Sweatsocks

Three of Your Favorite Bands/Artists (at the moment):
1. Styx
2. Norah Jones
3. Evanescence

Three of Your Favorite Songs at Present:
1. Evanescence - My Immortal
2. Bowling For Soup - 1985
3. Evanescence - Bring Me Back To Life

Three New Things You Want to Try in the Next 12 Months:
1. White water rafting
2. Rollerblading
3. Getting a manicure

Three Things You Want in a Relationship (love is a given):
1. Trust
2. Laughter
3. Respect

Two Truths and a Lie:
1. Charmed is probably my favorite TV show currently
2. I hate coffee
3. I have a huge collection of Beanie Babies

Three Physical Things About the Opposite Sex (or same) That Appeal to You:
1. Eyes
2. Legs
3. Hair

Three Things You Just Can't Do:
1. Pay a lot for clothing
2. Watch most reality TV
3. Stay mad for long

Three of Your Favorite Hobbies:
1. Reading
2. Walking
3. Tai Chi

Three Things You Want to do Really Badly Right Now:
1. Take a hot bath
2. Get a massage
3. Do the dishes

Three Careers You're Considering:
1. Counseler
2. Life counselor
3. Senior peon programmer

Three Places You Want to Go on Vacation:
1. China
2. Egypt
3. Central America

Three Kids Names:
1. Shorty
2. Butt head
3. Hey you

Three Things You Want to Do Before You Die:
1. Walk on all 7 continents
2. See the sunrise on the equinox at Stonehedge
3. Write a book

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Busy! Busy! Busy!

Between my usual schedule and Christmas preparations I have been swamped with stuff to do and not spent enough time here. Hopefully that will all change this week.

I got to watch I Robot today. Now I don't remember the books that well, it has been 20+ years since I have read them, but the story seemed to move pretty well and I like Will Smith in these kinds of roles. He brings just enough humor in to keep things from getting too serious. I liked this considerably better than I liked Unstoppable with Wesley Snipes. It was in the review of Unstoppable that someone pointed out that the era of the action movie star seems to be over. Oh action films are still made, but you can't bank on any one star anymore. The era of people just going to a film because Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone are over. Will Smith or Jet Li might reverse the trend some, but not enough.

Well it is late and I need to get some sleep. Maybe something a little more interesting tomorow.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Real winter weather & podcasting

Winter has finally arrived with a nice coating of lake effect snow. For those of you lucky enough to not live near one of the Great Lakes - Lake Effect snow is what happens when the weather comes over the lake (Erie in my case) picking up additional moisture, that then gets dumped in the form of heavy, wet snow.

I ran across Adam Curry's weblog and I started checking out his podcast. Now even though I don't have an iPod, I have been downloading and playing his podcast. Now I have been following podcasting for all of a week now, but I can already see where there are a number of problems.

1) Podcasting takes too much time. Unless you have a long ride/drive or want to listen to them all day at work you need to carve out a large chunk of time. Although a little better than TV, it is still tough.

2) Adam Curry points out there is no content management right now. If you think of TiVo, it does great content management so you don't have to think about what you have watched/not watched and making sure you have enough hard drive space.

3) Until something can be worked out with the RIAA, the music selection is going to be limited.

4) Given we already have some iPod-style machines that are showing pictures and I think video (if not, it is not far behind), it is not too long until we get the equivilant of public access on cable.

After the initial thrill dies out, much like with CB radio or even pirate radio, we are going to see this go a few things develop:

1) Most people will use podcasting to do remote updates of the traditional blog. I have seen at least 1 person doing this already.

2) Colleges & other schools will use it to help train traditional broadcasters and to keep in contact with colleges. We may even see businesses use this as a way to keep in contact with customers.

3) A few people may keep up with non-RIAA music. I figure there is a growing popularity in releasing music independently, but it is tougher to get advertising.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Into the Christmas hell

I wrapped up a bunch of my Christmas shopping today, which involved going to stores. Overall not too bad, even with going into Toys R Us. Fortunately outside of 2 gifts and some gift cards I am done!!!! Now to get some more Christmas cheer around here by getting some decorations up.

Today has been a crazy day. Between shopping and everything else I have yet to finish the newspaper or my laundry. I hate days like this. In the midst of all of this I did get to see the movie Radio finally. I enjoyed it, although I was busy running all over the place doing this and that so I did not get to fully enjoy it. I did get to sit through the ending though, which I thought was very good. My lights are down here, although a bunch of them are missing. I need to find the last of my lights, and I did dig out a tree that I will bring down tomorrow.

Oh well, I'm just tired and not feeling very chatty tonight. I think I am going wrap up my laundry and go to bed early.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Ahhhh.... Snow

Now I am not one of those weirdo skier types with a "let it snow" bumper sticker, but there is just something wrong with us getting into mid-December and not having any real snow. Not that the little dandruff we got today will stick around because the ground has yet to freeze, but at least we have gotten some snowfall.

For whatever reason I got a real late start today. Probably has something to do with getting 4 packages in the mail today, although I did get up rather late and then proceeded to check email and read. Damn - a laptop in bed means not getting up until 10:30. And I was not even surfing for porn ;).

Because of my late start I did not get much done today, although I did get to witness rant #3275: Are Americans getting dumber or lazier?

I ask this question because of the cart coral at the store. Now anyone who has been to a reasonably large store, a la Wal-Mart, has probably seen these. They are these little pens where shoppers and stict their shopping carts. The idea is that it shows the stores care about the customers not getting the car dinged up and allows the stores to hire fewer people since customers are taking care of their own carts. Truth is this fails on both counts since most stores only put the corals up front and those parked 8,000 miles away (or for some people, 3 space away) just leave their carts in the middle of the parking lot. However that is another rant.

Now the concept is simple - line the carts up inside of each other just like they are inside of the store. Most corals are wide enough to accomodate 3 rows of carts, maybe 15 to 20 deep on each row.

However it seems that some people do not get it because when I get there the carts are every which way, usually over flowing into the parking lot. Now maybe some people feel the shopping carts need to be able to roam freely in the coral, much like free range cattle. Hell the best coral I have seen is at the local organic supermarket. I have seen grown adults (children I understand, and any one in a handicap spot I also leave out of this discussion) launch the carts from half way across the driving lane into the coral. Really, would it kill you to walk the extra 24 steps and put the cart in an organized manner? Is that 20 seconds of time THAT important? Are you just stupid? Do you just not care about the traffic hazard you are creating?

Now most days I will take the time to sort out the coral. Takes maybe a minute and the 15 carts that were overflowing fit nicely in 1 row, 2 if I am feeling creative. Nice, neat, and no traffic problems. On those rare occassions when things are already nice and neat it take all of an extra second to walk the cart in and place it in neatly with the other carts.

So, I post the question: Are Americans getting too dumb to be able to handle how to work a cart coral or are we all getting lazy.

Ah well, enough of the ranting. I did get to watch the movie Hero today. I went into it with a bit of a bias because someone in my tai chi class had said that there was too much wire work, although the sword play was still neat. I'm not much of a fan of wire work in martial arts films, however I do respect Jet Li as a martial artist (he actually fights with a style that I have studied in the move The One). If you enjoyed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you will enjoy this film as well. This was the director's first action film, and from what I understand he is a well respected dramatic director and it shows. The story is well done and the action sequences truly enhance the story instead of a cruddy story being hung on some kick-ass action scenes. It is only 1.5 hours long (roughly) and well worth the watch.

I also got to watch Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story tonight with my brother and his family. Now Ben Stiller is hit or miss with me, however I love Vince Vaughn. At first the premise of the film was stupid to me, but I figured I got the movie for free if I really hated it so I was not loosing much other than 1.5 hours of my life. It was much better than I had thought it was going to be. I don't think I would ruin anything by saying the good guys of Average Joe's Gym win, but there is definately a twist on the Cinderella story that is worth the time. If you are offended by crotches getting hit by big red balls you might want to skip it though - they do go for the cheap laugh unfortunately. But Ben Stiller plays an excellent asshole, Vince Vaughn does good as, well, an average Joe and there are a ton of cameos throughout the film.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Slow, gray day

Yet another slow day, gray day here in NE Ohio. I am in a holding pattern on my work projects, it is wet & yucky outside. At least it is not snowing yet. Plus my Windows Media Player is choking. Maybe someone is accessing my SQL server.

After last week's break down of my car, one of the results of the diagnostic they did was that my brakes needed done. So today I got to take my brother's truck to work. This is a 91 Ford Bronco with the big-ass tires (an industry term) that gets something like 3 gallons to the mile. Ok, it just seems that way. I have a 30 mile one-way drive to work (he has about 3), so it really sucked down the gas. My hope is that the brakes stay to under $400. On the upside he has a great CD player in his car.

Yesterday while looking for my SanDisk Cruzer Mini (if you don't have one of these little memory things, get one. WAY cool & convenient.) I was back in my office looking at the tangle of wires. Now I have not been using my office since I got my laptop over the summer, so when I wander back there I tend to forget just how bad the power is around my computer.

Now I do not consider myself unusual, and I am sure many of us are in the same situation. We all went out and got a six-strip outlet for our computer stuff, yet it seems that I do not have room for all the stuff I need to plug in that is computer related. Oh, did I mention I have 2 six-strip outlets?

Allow me to explain. Now my old computer & monitor (2 plugs) were not too bad, and if I had my laptop back there that would only take 1 of those 2 slots. However it is all the other crap, err computer hardware, that is the problem.

Now, like many others, I have a printer, a Palm (Tungsten T3), a wireless router and cable modem. I also have small Brothers label printer and a Bluetooth master unit for my printer. I have not hooked up the Zip drive to the new machine, so at least I am getting a little relief.

Now my cable modem has the right idea - the transformer is small and is a little bigger than a standard plug. My laptop also has the right idea - there is a short line running between the plug and the transformer so it only takes up 1 spot. Contrast that with my HP 5550 printer. The plug & transformer are all one unit that takes up 4 slots on my one strip. It plugs into 1, blocks 2 others with the transfer and 1 other with the wire. Likewise everything else pretty much takes 2 spots, or at least requires some creative use of the 1 outlet items to get everything to fit in.

Now, realisticly, how much could say 3 foot of electric cord and a plug cost? Let's be generious and say a buck. How many of us would be willing to pay even an extra $3 or $4 for this? I would. Hey, if I am already spending around $100 for a piece of equipment, and extra $3 is not that bad.

Maybe someday we will figure out how to beam power wirelessly. Until then we are stuck with a jumble of wires.

Also, the next person who suggests using a generic power supply for a printer (or whatever) should be hung by his own intestines. Come on - print the name of your company on the damn power supply people!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

It's beginning to look like Christmas, sort of

Today is a gray day. Lots of clouds, bare trees, grass that is more brown than green. Windy, rainy, in a word yuck. It is still staying the 40's here most days, and upper 30's/low 40's at night. Any more that seems to be what Christmas is like around here. Sigh.

Maybe that is why I am having trouble getting into Christmas. No snow. I have not had a Christmas tree in over 10 years because my one cat seems to think it is a neat game to watch me pick up the tree every day when I get home. I caught her one day - she ran from one room over at full speed and launched herself into the tree, which of course even at her "heavy" 8 pounds was enough to knock the whole thing down. You would think after the first time she would have learned the tree would fall down. I only this week broke out my Christmas music, which usually comes to work the week of Thanksgiving. Maybe I am becoming like Scrooge. Things have even been worse since mom passed on a couple of years ago. It just seems like any other day of the year to me anymore, except you have to give a gift.

Well, maybe I can get into the spirit more by getting some decorations up. Plus I need to get out and go shopping over the weekend.

I think my house is killing me. My heart rate has been elevated the last few weeks. Nothing outside of "normal", but not normal for me. I went to the doctor last Friday and he thought it might be some kind of virus. This week I have been tracking it a little closer and it seems to be worse at home. I am wondering if maybe developing some kind of allergy, because I am also getting some extra snot going on as well. I have been good about sweeping and what not of late, so I am not sure what is going on. I may have to do a quick run over with the sweeper daily. I am probably going to make another appointment tomorrow or Friday because things are not really getting much better.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Gotta love Monday

I came in to about 5 times the email that normally would have on a Monday, 2 of which were essentially junk (notification that an upgrade was done on one of the servers). Seems like more stuff keeps getting added to the plate and nothing is coming off. I am starting to get into thrash mode, which always sucks because things only get half done. Hopefully I can get at least 1 thing out of my hair today, maybe even 2.

Anyways I am starting to feel better, although I am not sure about the whole sinus thing. Looks like I may have some allergy thing going on. I'm going to give it to the end of the week and see if things clear up before going back to the doctor.

Yesterday was spent cleaning up the house and just kind of staying home. I am still trying to get into a regular cleaning schedule. I mean the FLYlady only recommend about a half hour to hour a day cleaning. Is that really that much time? Beats trying to do it all over the weekend I think. Every week I get a little better at it.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Feeling better

Well, after 3 nights of minimal sleep I finally feel better. I had to go to the doctor because something was not right. Aside from the lack of sleep I had an elevated heart rate. Nothing serious, but enough to get me to the doctor. He thinks it is a virus and I to see if things get better by Monday. The only thing he did was give me some samples of Benedryl to help with some post nasal drip, which I was not even aware I had. He said my throat looked like it had taken the worse of it, again. I guess it is a good thing I still have my tonsils.

Outside of that most of what I have done the last few days is try to sleep and get my car fixed. $700 later I have a new tire (bubble in the side wall), new water bump & belt, and just about every fluid in my car changed plus a tune up. Got to love when it all hits at once. So for the next few weeks I am going to be doing next to nothing as I try to save the cash to pay for all of this. I still have to go and get the brakes done, which is going to be ugly since the one mechanic said the one break's resevoir is leaking. It has been awhile though so I guess I should not be surprised.

I just finished Something M.Y.T.H. Inc. by Robert Asprin. This is a part of his Myth series of books that follow the myth-adventures (sorry) of Skeeve and his team. This is the last one that he is doing alone, and the last one under his contract so it could end up being the last one ever. I will admit this book seemed a little more forced that the others, but he has been writing these since the late 70's so I think a little slack is in order.

For those who have missed this series, if you like fantasy/adventure books I would recommend picking up one. Not only does it poke some fun at the whole fantasy/adventure genre, it also has fun with modern references. My personal favorite is Don Bruce the fairy godfather who runs the mob on Klahd (a dimension). Don Bruce is not only a real fairy, he also tends to dress in purple suits.

I also just finished watching The Stepford Wives. Not a bad show. It has a great cast and I think is a good update to the original. I never saw the original one, but in this they even include a gay couple. The one big drawback to me was Nicole Kidman in a blonde wig. Sorry, but I hate it when they make her blonde. Note to Hollywood - Leave her a red head. Ok, I have a soft spot for red heads.

Maybe tomorrow I will get into something a little more important. I have had a few little rants floating in the back of my head that I need to scribble down.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Are we sure it is not Friday?

Well, after my late night last night I fell right to sleep, but proceeded to wake up at 3:00 AM and cat nap between then and normal wake up time. This is the second night this has happened in a row. This trend started earlier in the year where I started waking up an hour earlier than usual. Since I don't use an alarm clock it has really become something of a problem. Fortunately I have flextime at work so unless I have a meeting first thing int the morning I am never late. There have been a few other weird symptoms that have popped up of late that is going to mean a trip to the doctor. God I hate it, but something is not quite right.

To make things even more fun, my car started blowing chucks on the way in. One water pump and belt later is should be drivable to my regular garge for a tire checkup (the water pump guys found a bubble inside my one tire) and a trip to the brake guy (dirt cheap labor - it pays to be semi-related). Unfortunately the brake issue means loosing my car for a day. Yuck. I guess I could take a day off since Brian is currently down to 1 vehicle, but I really do need to be at work. Maybe I can take a day off, borrow his car during the day and go to the doctor. Oh happy day.

I have been having trouble concentrating of late (another one of those symptoms) so I have not felt like writing much. I am trying out w.Blogger to see if I like it enough for full-time use.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Gotta love modern technology

Gotta love it - I am able to sit here in bed all wrapped up and still make an entry in the blog.

The main reason I am in bed all wrapped up is the weather has taken a rather nasty turn today. It went from 52 this morning to in the low 30s in the evening. I got home late because tonight was my tai chi class so I did not bother to turn up the furnace. Really I just got in, got my lunch together for tomorrow and pretty much went to bed.

Oh well, I did not have much to say today. Kind of a slow day, although I did want to smack some girls on the track. They were walking 3 wide down the middle of the track. Can you get any dumber?