Saturday, December 10, 2005

New Person After 7 Years?

I've heard and read that your body regerates all of your cells over a period of seven years, so effectively you are an entirely new person physically than you were that long ago.

I don't know what this is supposed to mean. It usually means as much to me as much as the phrase "You are one in a million" since that would mean that there are 1000 people just like you in China. Yes, I've said that before too. I prefer to believe that who I am as a person has been based on all of my experiences up until now - not that I am a totally different person.

I decided to google some things from early on the internet, or more specifically posts I mean in the mid 90s.

Here is a post I made on 4/20/1996

Reading it, it has to be me that made the post, but I don't even remember doing it at all.

Another one, with some information that proves it to be me (boasting about having a Mark VI Saxophone - and implying it was mine even though it was a school horn then). The amazing part is that reading my post I learned something supposedly about the Mark VII saxophone - I don't even know the information I posted.

Zigzag should definitely take a look at these posts since he is in them too. Nothing incriminating though. :)

The posts aren't terribly important. What was important to me is that I don't even remember making them at all, which is hard for me to grasp. I wonder if this is what people who read their journals from many years ago feel.

One thing is for certain - for better of for worse, I am a different person than I was in 1996.
The past may be gone forever - and whatever the future holds, our todays make the memories of tomorrow.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Life as an Icehouse

80s song I'm listening to now - Electric Blue from Icehouse. Totally 80s, totally love it. For those who haven't heard it - and i'm guessing you were born after 1980 if you haven't heard it - you can go to Amazon and hear a clip of it. I love this power ballad stuff and I wish it would come back.

If you like or dislike U2, the Pope, George W., Tony Blair, or Oprah OR you have a head, shoulders, knees, or toes - check this out - it has sound but should be safe for work. Requires Flash. I think it is funny, not Tiki Bar funny, but good enough to keep in your head.

Wendy and I saw Walk the Line this weekend. The story seemed very similar in ways to Ray - drugs, cheating, life on the road, etc. I think I liked it better to be honest.

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon both give AMAZING performances. And when I say performanances - I mean the singing and respective sting instrument playing. I knew Phoenix did his own vocals -but I didn't know both of them did their own singing. Phoneix learned to play guitar on his own for this role and Witherspoon learned auto-harp(wha?). Either way, go see it. I'm sure I've hit expectations up but they both did great jobs and you can really tell they put a lot of work into it.

Oh, and head and shoulders, knees and toes.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Tiki Bar TV

Go here now

Or subscribe to Tiki Bar TV in the podcasts in iTunes. It is a video podcast that has been around since about March.

These people are unbelieveably funny. Each episode is a recipe for a drink - and although I don't drink - it doesn't matter. They are crazy.

No admittedly, LaLa is a very hot woman that is in most episodes, but when they are trying to decode and internet post about their show and she says she is a l33t h4x0r. Oh, LaLa, you had me at l33t h4x0r.

Here's Johnny-Johnny and Dr. Tiki followed by the main 3 cast members all together (and Drinkbot :) )

Just see the show. You don't need an ipod to see it, I don't have one. Totally worth seeing. I know these are just some friends screwing around, but I hope to see more of them in the future. My only complaint is they only do one per month - but I prefer the quality over quantity.

These guys are great - just subscribe to them on iTunes. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Forest that is Ours

Sunday Wendy and I ventured into our backyard - we just aren't 100% sure where it ends.

It finally is starting to look like fall around here. Good thing too - since it is practically thanksgiving. I think it was still in the 80s last week, but is generally starting to get colder. Also, I think it really has only rained maybe 4 or 5 times since we've been here. Thats once a month at best!

This is right out our back door off the deck.

All this is literally just a couple hundred feet out of our backyard - I know - everyone gets it - we live in a forest.

This last one is leading back into the backyard.

On a totally unrelated note - I got the EVDO service from Verizon to work on my Blackberry for work - it was basically released today I think. I ended up giving a code that I read on a forum to verizon tech support - they had no idea what it was - and after upgrading the OS on it the speed is much faster!

And I've been practicing the new sax - I'll post some actual pictures of it soon. It is a little more worn as far as the finish goes than I expected, but still very nice. I am no out of practice. The first time picking it back up I felt at about the 7th grade level. Now I've progressed to maybe where I was coming in as a freshman in high school. I think this really will take at least half a year to get close to where I was before. Hey, it's a hobby at least that I have other than computers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Omega or Model 162

Ok, so I bought an Alto Sax off of eBay.
Click here to see the auction itself.

My "Vito" - while being tried and true and surviving a couple of floor races down third hall as well as going through 4 years of marching band in high school (twice - in 5th grade it was purchased from a graduating senior from Marian Catholic) I told myself I would not play it anymore until I had something decent to play on. Besides, I was tired of gluing the octave key back on the neck of the horn using superglue and rubber bands to keep it on.

That was 1996, and I haven't played since. I would like to say it is because I didn't have something decent to play on - but if it were important enough to me I would have saved up and bought something before now. I was also convinced I should just invest in a Selmer Super Action 80 Series II or III, a vintage Mark VI, or possibly a more recent Reference 54 (supposedly designed as close to the Mark VI as possible and new). My thinking was, well, these really won't lose value all that much.

Then I realized I don't have like $3500 to get one of these. The cheapest Mark VI I saw that was in decent shape was like $1900, and that was fishy.

So I started looking at other models while still keeping an eye on the Paris models. Then I saw the Ebay post (link above) for a Selmer Model 162. This is definitely made by Selmer USA (different company almost entirely than Selmer Paris) and I know it isn't going to be as good of an instrument, but guess what? I haven't played in 9 years, which is around as long as I played. So while I'm not going to be a beginner, I feel like its going to at least take me about half a year so I can be at least in the same range as I was before - or maybe longer. I think this will be good enough for me, at least unti I decide I'm more serious about playing on a regular basis. I would have killed to have something like this in high school.

I was hoping the auction would not have been bid on much because it wasn't referred to as a Selmer Omega (which it may or may not be - someone know? - most Omegas I've seen online were engraved as such) but the serial number matches some of the Omega range. Either way, I agree with the ebay subject of the auction - it look beautiful. I just hope it sounds okay - which is going to be hard to tell not playing almost for a decade.

So, the instrument should be coming either late this week or early this week. I'm surprised by how little places there are to buy reeds online - there are a few. I'm so excited to go out and get some No 2 (yes - I should have no endurance at all by this point) Vandoren Reeds. Maybe I'll quickly get back up to 3 or 3.5s, but I expect it is going to take a couple of months of practice.

BTW - reeds appear to be almost twice as expensive as I would get them 10 years ago. At least I only paid (well, I'll be making interest free payments to paypal for the next 6 months) $750 instead of $3500 for the saxophone.

I'll post some pictures and thoughts about it once it arrives.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I want a pile as tall as a man and 8 feet wide!!!!

Ok, most men are taller than this pile.

I saw posted in the "free" section of Craigslist - Free Firewood.

The post is still there. All you can haul. Try me. :)

Granted, we don't have a truck or anything, so we just took both of our cars.

We don't have anything other than a fire pit in the backyard to burn the wood so I think this is going to last us a while. I'd call that a Slick Deal! It may have been a 20 minute drive out there and the back seats of both of our cars and trunks are full of pieces of bark and needs to be cleaned now, but we're happy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I Hope Your Speakers are Turned all the Way Up

And you are at work - whoever you are! :)

I won't leave the audio up for long - but this commercial has been stuck in my head. And now it will be in yours. If you didn't hear the sound, use a different web browser, install Quicktime, or turn your mousepad upside town. And if you are checking out my blog using Firefox on an etch a sketch - put it above your head and shake it to reboot.

I know they are playing this in NC, but I heard this in Illinois at least once before I left. I'm not sure it is nationwide, but Lance Crackers certainly has a weird idea of a commercial.

If you want to hear/see the commercials with Adam Corolla - go to

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Everything is Illuminated

Wendy and I saw Everything is Illuminated on Sunday - after Jason (my brother) said that this movie was generally funny. I think he is just remembering parts of this movie because by the end the movie is definitely not funny.

I mean it did have its "premium" funny moments - overall it was people coming grips with their parts and learning things about their ancestors - and understand more about themselves because of it. I'd recommend going to see it, but keep in mind it is about the Holocaust - so despite what people tell you - while it does have fun moments, it definitely has a serious tone throughout the whole movie.

Today I went to the Microsoft Kick off event for SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005. I'd say I definitely got some out of the SQL portion - some definitely either cool new features in 2005 or ones I just didn't know about in 2000. The Peer to Peer database replication I saw would be nothing short of amazing in a bunch of circumstances. Maybe 2000 did this but I could see a lot of applications utilizing this. Plus the free copy of SQL Server 2005 standard and Visual Studio Standard 2005 (I think) was a nice touch. I'm not a developer so the Visual Studio portion was mostly lost on me.

And this isn't exactly exciting but we got a new kitchen table and chairs (since we didn't have any actual chairs for the other table - they were broken and thrown out in the move). So that kitchen picture a couple of posts ago is now out of date. I guess I'll have to post a new one soon.

And to all of you that are living further north - it was in the 80s today. HA :) Finally part of the reason that I'm leaving here. I'm sure it was unseasonably warm, but I still enjoyed it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Some Download Links, Movies we've seen, Etc.

First of all, for those of you that play current versions of Grand Theft Auto - the classic verisons of the original GTA and GTA2 and are available for free download. Thats free and legal. It is probably cheesy by today's standards but I honestly could not get into the first person point of view violence. These are all from a top down perspective. I like these better overall.

Anyhow, go to to get your free download for PCs.

The King Kong trailer is available now. I think it has been out since the 3rd. I hadn't seen much of anything about the movie so far, but it does look quite good in my opinion. For those of you who don't know this is Peter Jackson's next production after the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which mean we should trust this will be high quality of some kind. Watch the trailer and see for yourselves.

Wendy and I got tickets to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at the local IMAX theater on the Saturday after it opens. I haven't seen anything in IMAX in years, let alone a major motion picture - so I hope that goes well.

We also saw Shopgirl last night. This was a little bit sad, but a very good, well acted movie. It was written by Steve Martin and trust me - this is anything but a comedy. Good acting all around. To me it was on caliber with L.A. Story from Steve Martin as well. I really seem to like movies that he writes - although I totally predicted it would also be set in L.A. Don't expect to leave the movie with any warm, fuzzy feelings but you won't be totally depressed either.

The plan today is to see Everything is Illuminated today, but it's really nice outside (supposed to 80 today!) so we'll see if that happens or not.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Surprise Visit

Yesterday, my Dad gave me a call saying he was going to be here today! He was going to be in the area on business so he just got here a little bit earlier to visit Wendy and I. He just saw our place, we talked a bit, and went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant called Est, Est, Est. I think the left the B off of those words, but what do I know?

The food was pretty good and they had cannolli :)

I'm just going to post some pictures of our place mostly for my family which has not seen it other than Frank and my Dad as well as some pictures from today.

Just some general pictures of the interior of the house.

He got to rent a converible for work - How interesting. But I guess it is still mid 70s in November so I can't complain! I guess I live a sheltered life but its my first ride in a convertible with the top down - um, ever. What a rock I live under.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

An Explanation and A Life Less Ordinary

Ok, I figured 3 things might have happened from my last post referring to someone's "trash novel".

1. No one would have read it. I see now that that didn't happen. :)
2. People would have seen the movie where I had placed the long quote from, therefore getting the humor of why I referred to anything as a trash novel.
3. The writer might have gotten offended - but I was hoping this wouldn't happen.

So, Cindy - my apologies for referring to what you are writing as a trash novel. I honestly hope what you write goes very well and I do hope you get published. Truth be told, I think even the thought of it came from trombonekenny's comment on your blog. - If you've seen "A Life Less Ordinary" and maybe you have, the running joke about Robert's "trash" novel I found hilarious at the time, because everyone seems to be able to predict the end of the book based on absolutely no information - even though he hadn't written it yet and he had given them about 3 tidbits of information. I guess looking back its just a running joke with myself - maybe Sarah will understand what I'm meaning too if she rents it this weekend and shares my sense of humor. :)

So, seriously, best of luck on your book. I was not meaning to offend at all and I could see how you might take it that way. I could never seriously write any book, especially a work of fiction. I'm just not creative enough.

So, for those of you who knew the movie - fantastic.....for those of you who haven't even heard of the movie I recommend renting it since it is fantastic. Truth be told, it is a romantic comedy in some respect - and it has some pretty big actors in it (Ewan McGregor, Cameron Diaz, Holly Hunter, etc). It is a little twisted, but an excellent movie nonetheless. I give it 4 stars.

Wendy and I saw "The Weather Man" which was a little slow but rewarding overall. I think almost entirely filmed in Chicago. I'll post something about it later tonight.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Guess the movie....without using Google

Ok, everyone try to guess what movie this is from without using google or other means. I wanted to see who is l33t enough to remember this. (This should be easy). You get extra points if your wife is writing a trash novel (you know who you are), therefore the motivation for the clip. Tell her to worry about google's cache :) I'm totally kidding. Anyhow, on to the movie snippit:
ROBERT: She's the secret daughter...of Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy, right? I mean,that's why Marilyn was murdered.So,the young girl grows up in an orphanage...unaware of her incredible parentage. Years go by. She's beautiful. She's smart She's successful, OK?

MAN ON RIGHT: Then what?

ROBERT: Well,then... Then she gets sent to London as U.S. ambassador.

MAN ON LEFT: Where she discovers who she is...and also unravels the secret of the Nazi gold...hidden underneath the embassy.

ROBERT: Uh,yeah.

MAN ON RIGHT: It's kind of obvious, Robert.Of course it's obvious, guys. It's a trash novel.You buy it in the airport, you take it on holiday.

To prove you've actually seen the movie, tell me the profession of the men on the left and right. They are the same.

Big shout out to my sister Lana who turned 23 today. Happy Birthday Lana!!!
And here's your surprise - a picture of you on the internet...... :) Its the most recent one i've got.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Scottish Music

And I don't mean James Doohan in Star Trek II playing Amazing Grace on Bagpipes for Spock before he is about to shot into space and soft lands on the Planet Genesis.

Check out this song:

Its a free download from the artist's website for those who are superlegal. Its the full song.
The artist is David William - and he's Scottish. So - Scottish music. It still sounds fairly amateur and not overly produced but I'd say this guy definitely has got talent. I hope someone signs him so that he actually gets heard.

So how did I hear about him? Off of a podcast. I have 100% stopped listening to the radio. When I told everyone about mp3s when I first found them on the internet in August of 1996 - like the first week my freshman year in college - I know it would change everything. I've been listening to mp3s for over 9 years now. I'm saying right now those who are not listening to podcasts that you will eventually, one way or another. Some of the podcasts are being rebroadcasted on Sirius Satellite.

I don't care if you are in technology, you will one way or another be eventually affected by this. I can't see how this is a fad - there is enough different topics to listen to for everyone. I'm just glad there is almost zero advertising in it thus far. I open up iTunes, update my podcasts....and burn them onto a cd to listen to in my car for nearly a week.

So yeah, it is costing me like 10 to 15 cents per week - I have no problem with that. If I had an ipod - I'd be all over that.

I watched all of the episodes of Firefly now - and I am wanting more. Go out and see Serenity folks - it is worth watching and convinced me to watch 14 episodes of a show that was cancelled midseason. Poor marketing destroys some real talent from doing well. Maybe Serenity will allow this to be furthered.

I also had done a 3 paragraph tirade about "Proof", which was distributed in the poorest fashion I've ever seen. Great promotions back in August/September, and then it doesn't play in but a couple of spare theaters nationwide.
To recap my unposted post - good movie - a lot of parallels to A Beautiful Mind. I like this better. Gwyenth Paltow's acting is amazing in this. Everyone else is ok, but she is fantastic. After View from the Top I figured she had a screw loose, but this was fantastic. And it is set in Chicago.

And to anyone reading this - is adult life anything like you thought it would be growing up? I'm 27 now and realize my 20s won't last much longer. Is life just about going to work and daily activities? I'm sure everyone is thinking this. Reality has to hit each of us in a different way.

Maybe I should watch Office Space again.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saw "Proof"

Last night Wendy and I went to see "Proof". I'm imagining a lot of people have seen trailers for this back in like August. I'm not even going to bother figuring out who did the distribution for this movie - but they are awful. This movie is only playing at one theater in the Raleigh area (we have like 10 movie theaters). Considering that I saw trailers all over the place before movies and on tv - why do all that work and don't do a wide release? It wasn't even available until the end of September at the earliest.

So anyhow, the movie. Gwyneth Paltrow - whom in general i'm not overly fond of, but don't have any serious issues with. Maybe it was "View from the Top" or something else, but she's definitely done movies I haven't been overly fond of. But there's definitely a lot of movies she's done that have been great as well. I guess the jury's out.

I don't want to give a lot away about the plot - you can go to IMDB for the basics. But overall I'd say the movie was quite good but had a lot of similarities to A Beautiful Mind. I liked Proof better though. The best part of the whole movie was Paltrow's perfomance. The plot was okay but thin at times. I've never seen here act better in my whole life. Anthony Hopkins was good as always, but not a huge departure from what he normally does.

I'd say go see it if you can. This movie is not going to do well in theaters, because well, it isn't in very many theaters.

Spreaking of the theater - instead of standard concession stand it had a Starbucks like thing and had options of getting wine or beer. I think you can get coffee at the theater. Didn't Kramer used to sneak coffee into the theater? :) How weird is that?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Carving Pumpkins Like a Pro

Apparently Dremel has got a tool for carving pumpkins. Here is a link to it on Amazon

Hey. I thought it was cool. If it wasn't out of stock I'd consider getting one.

And there's a new James Bond. I've got mixed thoughts about this. Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery are the only realy true Bonds to me. Obviously Connery because he was the original and he's just so damn cool, but Brosnan because the first Bond move I really saw was Goldeneye and still my personal favorite.

I heard a lot of people who were being cast for the role as Bond - Ewan McGregor was my personal choice even if he wasn't right for the role. Just because I want to see Ewan McGregor in as many movies as possible because he is so awesome.

For those of you that are running Exchange 2003 standard and need a larger information store Exchange 2003 SP2 is supposed to be out tomorrow October 18th. It might be available for download here. There's a mess of new features and fixes and if you are coming here to get your tech news I'd be really surprised.

Does anyone know had to add an RSS feed to blogs? :) I'd like to put up my netflix queue so people can see what I'm watching right now.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I'm bad luck, but its okay

So, for those of you who haven't heard (and live under a rock or don't live around Chicago) - the White Sox are going to the World Series for the first time since 1959. Now, I'm a die hard Cubs fan, but when one my home town teams is going to the World Series, I have to take notice.

Here a picture of me and Wendy at a Cubs game that Rich took us to in June. Amazing seats. Thanks again Rich!

And by a die hard Cubs fan I mean that if I were going to watch a baseball game - that would be it. But I'm no sport fan by any stretch except when home town teams are doing well.
And I can live with this. Besides, there are no major league teams in North Carolina.

To my point - I'm bad luck. Nearly every game I've gone to in my life the team I'm going for loses - seriously. Its almost 100%. Now, it hasn't been that many games in my life and it always is a good time, but still.

I guess as far as baseball goes, I have to leave the state for things to go better. We'll see if they win the series. I'm sure they will now that I'm gone!

If you haven't gone out to see it, go see Serenity. It is Sci-fi and pretty good. Its not amazing by any stretch, but its convinced me to watch all of Firefly, the now cancelled series it was based on (same characters, continued storyline, etc.). I'm off to go watch that on the treadmill now.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I'm back and New Digital Camera!!!!

Ok, I know its been forever since I've really blogged anything and I'm sure that no one is reading this, but the reason I haven't been around is -

1. My internet connection is been whack lately. Ended up being a problem with signal strength - and while it is working now, who knows who long it may be up.
2. I'm lazy
3. I forgot what 3 was for.

So - I posted earlier about the coveted Canon Powershot A620 - a 7.1MP point and shoot from Canon that is what i'm considering to be their top of the line point and shoot model. At least in the category I'm looking at. Digital SLRs are nice and I'd get one if it was in my budget. The Canon Digital Rebel XT is my personal choice for one of those, but I'm happy with what i've got now. I am coming from using a Canon Powershot A70, which I purchased in July of 2003 and has been a great camera and I still love it.

First of all I got it for $329 shipped - I'd like to see someone find that price right now on it. I got it from Dell with some coupon codes from It came to $304 (normally $399) - but after tax and shipping it was $329. I ordered it on Monday the 10th. With 3+ weeks estimated for shipping I was not expecting anything soon. I was surprised when it it showed up at work on Friday October 14th. Wow Dell, not bad.

I immediately noticed 2 things about the camera when taking pictures - The response time is like 3 to 4 times faster when taking pictures than my A70 - and the swiveling LCD is nice for all kinds of reasons. Lets reviews some spec of where I was coming from and where I went to with key features -

3x Optical Zoom/4x Optical Zoom
CF Memory/SD Memory

I'm sure there are more additional features, really too many for me to list in my quick review. Things like additional scene modes (fireworks, indoor, kids and pets, foliage, etc) , a movie mode at up to 60fps, etc. The biggest things I can saw is it's ability to focus isn't necessarily better, but tons faster. Even reviewing pictures on the LCD is tons faster. Also, for those of you who haven't seen this - the LCD can swivel out so lets say you are taking a picture of yourself and another person - who hasn't done this on a vacation? - you can actually see yourself on the LCD as you are taking the picture of yourself. And since the LCD folds back in completely it is protected from scratches when not in use.

I'm also really excited about taking some shots and being able to actually crop them and still blow them up and look good. Thats the only reason I went for the 7.1MP version as opposed to the A610 which I think is 5MP and somewhat less costly.

Ok, on to some sample shots. I'm sure that these won't show off all the features of the camera, but its still a good way to show some of it.

Note: I don't think any of these shots are actually at full res - so take it with a grain of salt. I don't blogger will not muck with any image you upload. You should be able to click on the picture to get something at least slightly higher res. Checking after I posted this images that were 5MB were uploaded and are now 200kb, so clearly you aren't seeing the image in all of its glory. Maybe I'll hit up Rich for some real hosting soon. :) I really have to start blogging more to justify that.

This first shot is the only one that blogger actually let me put up with the "large" picture setting. Its a picture of my backyard (yes, this is really my backyard) facing back towards the house. You obviously can't see the house obscured by the trees. Does anyone else feel that crazy lens thing happening when the eye of Sauron is looking for Frodo in the Fellowship of the Ring and he tells everyone to get off the road right before the Ringwraiths show up? Ok, just me.

A shot of the front of the house as taken from partly up the driveway with my trusty(or is that rusty - kidding) 1995 Pontiac Bonneville! I've actually been pretty happy with the car other than air conditioning issues and other minor things that have come up. Lets hope it lasts a couple more years!

The next two shots are to show its macro ability. I know the coin isn't in focus from top to bottom, but I was taking it an angle in a relatively low light situation on my desk. The 2nd picture was also somewhat low light, but it was outdoors before the sun had completely set. Neither of these photos have been cropped - this is how close I was to the objects.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Sorry To All Who Have Been Checking This

I just realized I haven't posted in almost 2 weeks. If it doesn't rain tomorrow, I'm going to take some pictures of our new place out in NC for everyone to see. My sister-in-law was here for the last week so things were thrown a little bit off in general.

In the meantime, does anyone have a preferred mp3 organizer? I'm going to give iTunes a chance to just organize the files in folders, but methinks it is not going to organize it the way I wants it to. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

New Haircut Experience

My mother is a hairdresser and I've never paid for a haircut in my entire life. But now, moving several states away, I can't just wait for a visit home to get a haircut anymore.

And I was going crazy with my hair and it was looking really bad.

I finally set up an appointment with a stylist that Wendy had gotten a haircut from and had a good experience.

I know this is normal stuff for everyone else, but for this freak, it was a new experience.

$30 for a haircut people tell me is high, but I can't imagine paying less for that skill level of the stylist. I'm going to go back. Overall a good experience and my hair is now shorter again.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Just got back from the Smoky Mountains

Wendy and I had our third anniversary on Wednesday 7th, followed by my 27th birthday (man am I getting old!) on the 8th. By the way, if anyone is thinking about getting me anything - I'm saving money together to get the Canon Powershot A620, which I think now will actually be released very soon instead of in October! Of course I'm not asking anyone to get me this, just any Amazon GC in any amount will do. :)

We went out to Carrabba's for dinner on our Anniversary because Wendy's father Mike had given us a gift card to go out to eat. Thanks Mike!

On Thursday we made the drive to Gatlinburg, TN. Part of the reason that we moved to North Carolina was so that we'd be closer to our favorite vacation area. Well, the trip is approximately 5.5-6 hours now, which I guess is closer, but not as much closer as we thought it would be. Still, always a good time. We listened to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on the way there and back. (well, about 9 hours of it total out of 20). Guess we'll finish it on another trip.

We didn't do anything too out of the ordinary, but we decided to finally hit Clingman's dome, which is either the highest or second highest point in the Smoky Mountains, depending on what you are reading. We talked about doing it before but it was always too Smoky - big surprise.

This is Clingman's Dome

Isn't the view from on top awesome? I'd suggesting clicking on the picture to really see the mountains in the distance. It is about a .5 mile hike but the incline is kind of difficult. Keep in mind at that altitude the air is a bit thinner.

The next day we ventured to the Andrew Bald Trail because in a book it was listed as one of the top ten trails in the US to go on and was classified as "EASY". I may be out of shape but I don't think it should have ever been classified as easy. This trail starts basically at the bottom of the paved trail up to Clingman's dome, some 20 miles of road up the mountains.

A bald is an area in the mountains where trees do not grow. I wouldn't say there were NO trees, but definitely much less.

I'd show you some pictures of the actual trail itself but lets just say we both look pretty crabby from it. It was quite rocky for most of it and the there were tons of flies on the way down. If you decide to take the trail make sure to bring plenty of water and don't be afraid of all of the flies and gnats. Wendy said she felt like Frodo carrying the one ring up to Mount Doom.

Needless to say, we were pretty tuckered out after that one.

I also fell in the Little Pidgeon River, but thats something I am not going to expand on. :) Come to your own conclusions.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Picked up the Window Motor...

And I'll be putting it in tomorrow morning. At Rich's suggestion I'll take some pictures of the process. They'll probably even help me put Humpty Dumpty back together again (aka my door panel).

Everyone cross your fingers that I don't have a garbage bag over my drivers side window when i'm done. :)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cars are Dumb and my first talks on Podcasting.

Ok, first of all - I'm sure everyone is up in arms about gas prices right now. I know a lot of it has to do with Katrina and there are a lot of tragic things going on with it, but i'm going to focus on the gas prices and then to my car breaking.

First of all - I just paid $3.29/gallon for gas since premium was all that was available. I had about 1/8 of a tank left so I just had to buy gas. Last night, Wendy had her low fuel light on so she had to get guess. At 9:45pm there is a line to get guess that costs over $3 and people are going nuts. Heres what I don't get - there are rumors of a shortage because of pipelines being down so everyone goes out and gets a ton of gas - not everyone could have possibly needed that fuel that day and were just topping it off. I heard of someone that bought like 8 5 gallon gas cans just to be sure that he didn't run out. 40 gallons of gas? I guess that would last me a couple of weeks. ($40 x $3.29) = $131.60 just for perspective. Is it possible a gallon of gas is going to keep costing more than a gallon of milk? :)

Ok, my real beef. I'm actually not terribly upset about the gas really - my window motor in my car died for the driver's side window. I get unreasonably mad about my car and i'm afraid I took it out on my wife a little bit. So to add insult to injury as it is over 90 degrees reguarly - I have no air conditioning and now I can't roll down my drivers side window. I've opened up my driver's side door panel and i'm almost 100% its the motor, which is going to be appox $75 to replace, if I do it myself.


Ok, on to podcasting. If I had something to really talk about I'd be able to fill up this blog on a daily basis. I could never do postcasting - at least not regularly - I don't speak clearly enough and way too quickly. My shows would be like 5 minutes long but back in 20 minutes of material. I guess that would save on downloads.

For those you who don't know what podcasting is, simply put it is people recording whatever they want in an audio format and then posting it on the web in a form that is easily downloadable. Usually this is in the form of an RSS feed going to an mp3, etc. The easiest way to listen to the most popular is to get iTunes and after installing it subscribe to some of the top 100 podcasts. If you have an ipod it can automatically update the podcasts you want to listen to.
And i'm sure there is other software that works well at doing this.

Now basically most of these are radio shows. I'd recommend some of the better put together ones to listen to and honestly in my mind stay away from the really commercial ones done by bigger companies (like fox and whatever or cnn or nbc). Adam Curry , whom I remember very clearly from his MTV VJ days in the 80s and early 90s is one of the major founders of podcasting in general and his Daily Souce Code is very entertaining and talks in a lot of detail about podcasting in general. He also hosts a show on Sirius I think once a week that goes over the best podcasts.

The Dawn and Drew Show is my favorite podcast so far and is one of those guilty pleasures. Basically a very entertaining married couple that podcasts out of their farmhouse in Wisconsin. It doesn't sound like it would be great but they such and interesting dynamic. If you are offended by language or somewhat graphic talk this probably isn't the one for you but worth giving a chance anyhow - it's very addictive. And just in the last couple of days Drew just quit his job so that can make podcasting their full time jobs. Isn't that crazy?

Podcast Alley is also a great place to check out other podcasts.

This Week in Tech or "TWIT" is a good all around technical podcast and is pretty lengthy every week. Stays quite current.

There's even a MuggleCast for you Harry Potter fanatics.

Don't have an mp3 player? Doesn't matter. Just download the mp3s directly from the sites and listen to them on your computer or burn a cd if you want to listen to it elsewhere.

There's plenty of good topics to listen to. Even Ebert and Roeper do their weekly reviews and I think I saw a Catholic Insider podcast. Just check out iTunes and Podcast Alley and I'm sure you'll find something you like.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Because it's my birthday, my love, and I wants it!

Ok, I've found a new toy to lust after with near as much desire as Gollum for the one ring. Its also yet to be released.
This is the Canon Powershot A620. DPReview has got some information on that and its little brother the A610. Other than Canon's website for Powershots and Amazon's preorder page, I really haven't seen too much about it. It is 7.1MP, has a 4X Optical Zoom, and is going to retail for about $400. I've got a Canon Powershot A70 that is about 2 years old now and I'm really itching to upgrade.

For me - downsides are this takes SD instead of Compact Flash so I'll have to purchase some new memory cards and typically Compact Flash cards cost less for most space and can get bigger. I downloaded an sample image from canon's site and it was over 5MB for a single image. Looks like i'll be getting 100 shots at best on a 512mb SD Card. Maybe i'll get a couple.

And it looks like my lenses are not going to work with the new camera as it can take the lenses the G3, G5, and G6 camera can take. Anyone in the market for a Canon Powershot A70 with a wide angle and telephoto lens? I can throw in some Compact Flash cards to make it worth your while. Of course, this isn't on sale until I get my Powershot A620 and that doesn't come out until October 10th.

But I am seriously drooling. I think I'd get an ipod but this too me is just too cool.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

CVS Must Hate Me by Now

CVS is a drug store that is primarily on the east coast, but ironically there was one back in Rantoul, IL when we lived there (last month). I had read on Slashdot that there was a disposable camcorder that CVS was going to start offering, and that people were interested in hacking it since the disposable cameras they were selling had been hacked. I was surprised to find out that they also had disposable digital cameras as well!

Ok, what does disposable really mean. What it comes down to is normally you would pay $30 for the digital camcorder and another $12 to get that developed onto dvd. Max 20 minutes of footage. So basically $42 to get 20 minutes of footage. Its kind of pricey if you ask me and the quality as I found out is not great (definitely not dvd) but certainly passable to watch as a download clip on the internet. The digital cameras were $10 with no LCD and $20 with LCD. Keep in mind once you develop the cameras/camcorders you don't get them back and have to purchase again.

I was in the middle of moving so I didn't pay much regard to any of this since money was tight and I couldn't find it in any CVS. Then after I was in a CVS for other reason - I found a CVS that carried all of these different items. One week later I read the camcorder is hacked!

So I rush out and buy one of these things, not thinking anything other than "Cool" and "Fun". Its smaller than I expected (i'll post pictures when it isn't 3 in the morning) and seems pretty cool. It even came with a $5 off coupon for the digital camera with lcd! I end up making a cable following these instructions (its the same cable as the digital camera - bonus!) and spending a good part of a Saturday afternoon buying a soldering iron and learning how to solder. The cable is made by destroying the end of a parallel (printer cable for non geeks) and a usb cable (can't help you there if you don't know that is) and doing some bending and soldering. When all was said and done it was a recognized device.

Saturn2 is a program that was made to download the files right off of the camcorder and voila - a $30 digital camcorder. The quality is honestly so so, but my digital camera can't take 20 minutes of footage and this can. If I get some web space to upload to (nudge nudge Rich - hook me up) I'll put some videos up to show the quality.

Next post - my experience with the disposable digital camera with LCD. Good news - its hacked! But not nearly as easy as I thought it would be.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

You're Not Chinese??? and Insurance Games People Play

These are the words that prospective neighbors of ours said to my wife when she answered the door. Not "hello", not "Hi, We're looking at buying the house next door", just "You're Not Chinese!" The ladies apparently looked at the owner's name and just assumed.

My wife and I went out tonight with a friend she has made at her work and her boyfriend. The couple was very nice and we went to Carrabba's for dinner (this is heartily recommended if you have one in the area). Other than going to boss's house one night, this was our second social visit we've had since we've been down here.

So, information about insurance, not that anyone cares about this but me. I've had a certain company all my life. Lets just say their name rhymes with "Hate Farm". Its been a good run since I've had their insurance since I started driving. Well, we move here and they tell us due to speeding tickets we've had we're going to increase your premiums by 50%. We need insurance though, so looked at the tickets at I had one on there that was dated 3/2000, which is like 5 and half years ago! They are only supposed to take tickets 3 years or newer and all the older ones are not looked at. I was in freaking college in 2000 and not even dating my wife, whom we are celebrating our 3 year anniversary next month.

What were you doing in March of 2000? I mean, c'mon! The reason it showed up was the conviction date was 7/2003, so it still barely was on the record and will continue to be there until 7/2006. This is because it was an out of state ticket that I could not find information on where to pay it since I had lost it and finally tracked it down after 3 years. So, I called the Illinois DMV. No help of course. Called the state of Missouri (where the ticket was from) - they can't change anything, but suggested calling the court where I got the ticket. Of course, I have no idea what court it was and asked for the number.

They give me a wrong number.

So after doing a long internet search I eventually found a number that I knew would be wrong but could direct me to the right place. After explaining my situation to 3 people, I eventually got to someone that could talk with me. Their answer was - we can't change sealed files without an attorney - and that probably wouldn't help anyways since you didn't really plead guilty until you paid it in 7/03. GREAT

So I call back the insurance company and get the real scoop. Apparently the state of North Carolina changes taxes on insurance and you get penalized and have to pay additional taxes for insurance if you have any points on your license EVEN FOR TICKETS IN OTHER STATES. So basically, if you get pulled over anywhere and get a ticket for any reason, North Carolina is getting a cut. And it makes me want to hold out on getting our plates registered for our cars to give them as little money as possible.

It makes you think twice about how much that fine is really and makes me willing to hire a lawyer to dispute any ticket and go to court for all of them.

End up, I ask how much different I'm paying for having this ticket and the insurance company said about $80 every six months. Its not that big of a deal but it will happen 3 times total when it really shouldn't.

The good news is at least this insurance period their paperwork is all out of whack and they don't appear to be charging us for having any tickets.

Haha. I wasn't about to correct them.

"Hate Farm" - I'll see you again for another face off in 6 months.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Posted Using IE 7

Ok folks.

here my quick review of Mac OS X 10.4 for x86: You need SSE3 and the hardware support to really do this. Most articles I've read said you should just get a Celeron D and supported motherboard in order to do this, but since I'm a cheapskate, this just isn't going to happen. However - if you do go do it - go get Deerpark, which is a beta version of Firefox for x86 -Safari definitely has issues if you aren't running SSE3, and I'd read similar things.

On to Vista - so far definitely more stable than the Alpha version I tried earlier from WinHEC, but the driver support seems limited - during my install it asked to put in legacy "translation - probably 2003 or xp drivers) for an Intel Pro/100+. I'm thinking, yeah, Intel Pro/100 - what a crazy piece of hardware. Also, on an Athlon 1000, it's definitely not the fastest thing in the world.

Overall, prettier UI. Greatly expanded event log? I'm suprised I've heard no one else report this. It appears to also have categorized events based on things like Microsoft Parental Control (wha??) and Task Scheduler and what not. Other interesting features are a somewhat improved Remote Desktop Connection (I don't know about connecting to it yet).

I even saw Shadow Copies - which might even run on the Workstation OS. That would be interesting for people that delete documents or make bad changes - and want to use up most of the hard disk in backups. Might help the parents though. Note: I know this is useful but I don't do anything actually useful on my computer.

Is it bad that I instantly take a new M$ OS and put it right back on Classic View? Classic view is just so much faster on all hardware and I haven't gotten additional functionality from the other views. But thats me.

I was severly disappointed to find the the mention of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which was always referenced in the about Internet Explorer is now gone. Of course this is a reference to Mosiac, which apparently going from version 6 to version 7 is no longer true. YEAH RIGHT.

The more I think of it, the more I think Vista server and Pro in beta form at least are the same product with just some registry keys changed. Maybe the shadow copy service will be gone, but I'd really be surprised if RRAS shows up in Pro. If I were a developer sharing the same codebase between 2 products, I'd imagine it would make the most sense just to develop them both at the same time and cripple the non server products more and more, with Vista Home Edition being the most crippled of them all.

UPDATE: I'm logged in via RDP in the post. Its what you'd expect from Remote Desktop Except it support weird redirection for other things like smart cards. The login screen is also prettier.

Which is my word for Vista - Prettier so far but no added functionality that I can really tell. Well, tabbed browsing in IE but we've had that in Opera and Firefox forever.

Next Post - all about Podcasts - why you should listen to them and why they are making me want to buy an ipod. Doesn't anyone have any other software that makes it really easy to update on other mp3 players?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger (that sounds redundant) on x86!

Well, I managed to make it work. I'd like to tell you I'm making this post from Safari, but it just isn't the case. I was able to get Safari to come up and most devices on my computer were recongized, but Safari wasn't stable. My best guess is some of the addins for it were being emulated for ppc and it just crashed because of it. I'm not expecting 100% functionality anyhow since my processor doesn't have SSE3 anyways.

The trick was to get a different copy of dd.exe and follow the intructions on the previously mentioned website. The hard drive I put it all on myseriously stopped being detected in the BIOS, but I'll try more later - maybe i'll even post some screenshots of that and Vista if that ever gets done being downloaded.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

CVS Digital Camera, Tiger on x86, and My Stupid Server

Today - while stopping to get Benadryl to stop the itching from the bee stings, I decided to pick up the CVS disposable digital camera with LCD because I had a coupon for it. Its normally $20, but it was on sale for $15. My coupon was not supposed to work with another offer but the cashier scanned it anyway making it $10. What a slickdeal! I had to sign up for a CVS card, but thats not terrible to do anyways.

Now the ugly cable I made that works with the Camcorder also works with the Camera, and it was detected as a Digital Camera inside of Windows but I didn't get the software that allows the pictures to be taken off work, as of yet. I'll try some crazy hacks on my $10 digital camera. I wonder what the specs are on this thing(i've read appox 1.3MP)

And despite valiant efforts to get my computer to run Mac OS X 10.4, it just wouldn't boot off of the hard drive. See instructions on what I am trying to do here:

Since the torrent took well over a day to download, I'll keep trying doing this. Its really kind of exciting because supposedly with the right hardware everything runs, including ppc designed software.

Also, if anyone decids to try to get a Promise Supertrak 100 to work in Windows Server 2003, don't bother. It may appear to work over time but eventually somethere goes wrong. At one point today I thought I had zero data from my mirror set even though I didn't change anything in the array. I took a Promise Ultra66 card from another old server and just doing software mirroring now. Of course I probably shouldn't trust the IBM hard drives in there anyways.

Wendy and I found the underground hive today, or I guess more like the hole for it. There were bees going into and coming out of it. Good times!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Just Moved to North Carolina and BEES

My wife Wendy and I just moved to North Carolina from Illinois about 3 weeks ago. We went from renting a pretty large duplex to a somewhat smaller home, but with a nearly 5 acre yard. Suddenly, I'm responsible for mowing a big yard.

No big deal, with all the costs of moving we can't afford to get a riding mower, but I still got a self propelled that works pretty well. Well, now that I figured out how to make the propelling part work on its on. Last time I mowed, well - I got stung by a bee for the first time in my life. I've had a huge fear of bees for as long as I can remember. Not that I have any good reason - just I figured I could be allergic or something. It wasn't all in all that big of a deal.

So this time I'm mowing approximately the same area and I get stung AGAIN. i'm thinking i'm either:

A. I'm really unlucky
B. I'm mowing low flying bees - and the ones that survive are really angry
C. There's an underground beehive

I go back inside, relax for a second, and then go back out there. This time I'm really, really careful looking closely for any bees that appear to be in the area. I see none, and relax for a little bit. As I approach the area where I was stung earlier I think that the coast is clear because well, I don't see any bees. I can finally focus on the task of finishing mowing for another3 or 4 hours without having to worry.

Suddenly and without warning I'm being stung by somewhere between 9 and 10 bees. Some of them repeatedly. I didn't this was possible but as I was swatting them off, then were coming back! I ran off and screamed like a little girl and got back into the house - where I found there was still a bee in between my sandal and ankle still stinging me. I threw him outside and I figured it was probably time to stop mowing.

So I guess my answer has to be C. After I mustered enough courage to go back out there and put the mower away so it wouldn't get rained on, I found a small, but possible entrance to an underground behive. Does anyone know the right way to get rid of these? I mean, I don't mind getting stung once by one bee each time I mow - but getting a dozen stings on my legs pretty much incapacitates me for the day.

I wouldn't say I did anything important today but I did figure out how to add wallpapers and ringtones to my LG VX4650 phone. I didn't want to pay Verizon's $3 or $4 for a ringtone that I'd have to rebuy if I lose, so $43 later for a data cable and a couple of hours of tinkering with the software and drivers and I'm there. QPST and BitPIM seemed to both be needed to make this happen, but ultimately I only need QPST to keep doing it. I'm post step by step instruction at a moment when I've got more time.

Also to be posted soon - the CVS digital camcorder hack that has been posted in many other locations - gives a good step by step process of one way to do it. I made a cable out of the centronics end of a parallel cable and a usb cable, both of which I had lying around. The video quality isn't that great, but hey, for $30.

I'll check in later on.