Monday, May 28, 2007

Cool: L.A. Metro Rail Map

Here's a Google Map of the L.A. Metro Rail System. (Sad that they spelled "Purple" wrong.)

It's also missing the Aqua Line.

Google Its Own Undoing?

PBS.ORG -- Cringley says that Google's policy of requiring all employees to spend 20% if their time on personal projects, and then their inability to promote all of said projects to official Goggle offerings, combined with a culture that encourages Googlers to live at work means that Googlers will get together, discuss the projects Google passed on and when they're vested they'll set out on their own. (He says they'll pick some failures and leave some good projects behind.) More...

I have a partial solution. First, do a better job of picking which projects to promote. Let the entire staff vote and then give those that voted for the winning promotees a financial stake in those projects' futures. That will use the wisdom of crowds to really pick the best candidates. You get the best projects pushed forward, you get people having a greater interest in their success, and the longer you stay at Google, the quicker you make more and more money.

Won't stop all defections, but deflect some.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Confidence

CNN.COM -- GM's so confident in its Saturn Aura model that Saturn dealerships will now feature Camrys and Accords on the lot (not for sale) so that you can compare for yourself. GM plans to do the same thing later this year when they roll out their new Chevy Malibu. More...

What The World Needs Now...

These are kinda clever. I may have posted about this first one before... Twittervision displays people's twits as they tweet, but on a map so you can kind of see what people are thinking around the world. At least the inane thoughts of the technologically bored.

The second is a little more fascinating... Flickrvision does pretty much the same thing, but it's as people add photos to Flickr and put them on the map, this map updates, showing the photos.

Immigration Issues

MSNBC.COM -- This article by Fareed Zakaria's got something for everyone... some bashing of the current GOP hopefuls, some praise for Reagan and from my uneducated position on the sidelines, some great thoughts on what is and isn't working (and what will and won't work) in this whole issue of people who come here searching for work.
More...

INC.COM -- And this article is a great look at another side of the solution equation. Not what to do about keeping "them" out or what to do with them after they get here, but why they're coming here in the first place and an argument that if we don't want them here, we need to help their home countries become a better place (in their minds) to find work to feed their families so they don't come here illegally. More...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wasted Minutes

LIFEHACK.COM -- I liked this article on what do to with those few spare minutes between things that otherwise go wasted. He expands on each of these suggestions:

* Reading file.
* Clear out inbox.
* Phone calls.
* Make money.
* File.
* Network.
* Clear out feeds.
* Goal time.
* Update finances.
* Brainstorm ideas.
* Clear off desk.
* Exercise.
* Take a walk.
* Follow up.
* Meditate.
* Research.
* Outline.
* Get prepped.
* Be early.
* Log.

More...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What we deserve...

...but will never get. A Television Viewer's Bill of Rights.

(In related news, I have not been following American Idol anymore -- got tired of Randy's "dawg, dawg, dawg" -- but lots of Seattle connections. The two finalists auditioned in Seattle (though the odds-on favorite is from Glendale, Arizona) and the "finalist song" was written by a guy from Federal Way and a guy from Tacoma. One of them is a pastor at a daughter church of the church we currently attend.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What's a Website?

It's a place where you can make fun of people who live in caves. Except it's not really a place. It's a bunch of computers connected by a series of tubes. Your children or grandchildren can show you what interweb superway is all about. Sheesh.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Free Idea: Mirror Mount for iPod

Ok, here's my free idea of the day. I'd like a water-resistant plexiglass housing for my iPod. It would mount to the mirror at eye-level by that semi-permanent foam tape. It'd have a shelf with a lip that the iPod (or other MP3 player would sit on), a band or other mechanism to hold it in place, and then a plexiglass front cover that pivots at the top. A groove at the bottom would allow your earphone cable to come out.

The idea is that you can watch a TV show or movie (or listen to music) while shaving without having to precariously balance your iPod on top of an ornamental vase (vahz). It would be for times when you're not accessing the controls much, when you set it to play and leave it be. While not entirely watertight, the enclosure would be designed in such a way that it'd be really difficult for simple splashes to get inside.

If someone decides to manufacture such a case, all I ask is for 1 free case -- and 1 penny per 100 shipped to retailers.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's Craptastic

Irony... Comcast's stupid DVR once again eats part of the final episode of a reality TV show and jumps straight to a commercial for... Comcast! It seems like it only ate 3-4 minutes, and hopefully it won't do it again.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Reading Material

I came upstairs this evening and then realized that I had left a magazine downstairs that I had been reading. When I went down to grab it, I found not one, but four magazines, all in various states of partial completion.

I want to start reading books again, but I feel like I'm never going to get caught up with these magazines. (I'm reading Reader's Digest, Inc., Fast Company and Road & Track and skimming Parents and Entertainment Weekly. I've given up on Newsweek and leave those in the break room at work without even looking at them.)

Famine? Again?

CHRISTIANITYTODAY.COM -- To my eye Nairobi, Kenya's capital, looks good, leafed out in tropical vegetation. After three years of drought, rains came in May 2006. And the government shows signs of doing its job. The streets are cleaner than they have been in years. Shops and supermarkets are full of food. It's hard to believe that the drought has pushed Kenya into a food emergency. Yet 3.5 million people survive on emergency food aid in Kenya, part of the 6 million people who suffer likewise in the Horn of Africa, a vast region sweeping north from Kenya into Ethiopia and Somalia. You have probably heard about this crisis. And you have probably forgotten. It is easy to forget when this emergency feels like just one more in a never-ending series of African crises. Will we be feeding these people forever? More...

New To The Interwebs?

Hi! If you're new to the information super highway, here are some rules that will help you as you traverse the interweb.
  1. If someone sends you an email with a really cool, amazing fact, it's a lie. Visit http://www.snopes.com/

  2. If someone sends you an email asking you to "forward this to 10 friends" don't do it. It's a lie, and your friends will secretly hate you.

  3. Don't download anything. It's got a virus in it.

  4. Don't give your email address to just anybody. (And if you get an e-mail from someone you don't know and it says "click here to unsubscribe" -- don't do it, then they know your address is valid.)

  5. Unless you are a king or prince from some far off land, there is no reason a king or prince from some far off land would be contacting you to transfer his money to your bank account.

  6. If a woman starts chatting with you online, that's really a man. A dirty, dirty man.

  7. That really funny joke or web page you'd like to share with all your new online friends? Don't do it. We already read it 5 years ago. As a new web surfer, you are prohibited from forwarding any jokes or URLs to friends for five years.

  8. Your username is not cute, clever or funny. Or original. That's why Yahoo suggested adding 909653 to the end of it when you signed up.

  9. Anything you put on the interweb will be there forever. Don't put up pictures of yourself drinking beer unless run a beer company.

  10. If a website requires you to enter your name and e-mail address in order to read what it says, you can find it somewhere else without having to give away your private information. Or it's not worth reading.
If you've been using the internet for more than five years, please feel free to submit comments with your own suggestions for new users.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Late to the Party (RSS Feeds)

I'll still admit that I don't "get" Twitter. I don't know what the point of it is, even though I have one.

But, I just finally figured out the point of RSS feeds. Now, I was creating RSS feeds years ago, but they were for Podcasting through iTunes. And I've been pulling down podcasts for my own iPod for awhile. But for other people's blogs? I knew I could put them all on some page for other people to see, or as tickers on my own website or Gmail, but I didn't quite realize their usefulness.

I keep finding more and more blogs of interest to me. And it was starting to get overwhelming. I had to create a to do list to remind me to check out each one regularly.

And then I found Better Gmail, a Firefox/GreaseMonkey script that adds a bunch of cool stuff to Gmail. One of them was a "Feed" link that integrated Google Reader, including showing the number of unread posts.

So now, instead of trying to organize my reading schedule, now I just know nearly instantly when any of the 19 things I'm following has a new post.

Schools Should Teach Better Computer Skills

USEIT.COM -- This is a lot of reading, but I think it's a really good read. More...

Encyclopedia of Life

This is pretty cool. An undertaking to catalog every known species in one place.



Encyclopedia of Life (EOL)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

So It's Not Just Us

FEELINGCINGULAR.COM -- So here we were thinking that our Motorola RAZR v3i's where somehow special. Put them near a speaker -- at home, in a conference room, in the car, and a buzzy clicky sound emits from the speaker. Turns out it was just that now we're on GSM and in the past we'd been on Analog (L.A. Cellular/AT&T Wireless), PCS (Sprint) and CDMA (Verizon Wireless). And according to this guy, the phone left by the speaker can actually blow the speaker.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Monday, May 07, 2007

Is That a Projector In Your Pants?

Surveillance footage of a guy who stuffs a video projector down his pants. They managed to walk out of the store without being stopped. They were later seen stealing drugs and syringes, but again, they got away. One wonders why they never stole a backpack, or didn't go after a smaller projector.

Hey, Steal My Identity!

I got a postcard today from Bruce Titus Chevrolet. It got my attention right away, because it showed a 747 in a darkened hangar. All the lights on the plane were on and my name appeared to be painted in 15-20 foot tall letters on the side of the plane. Very slick.

It also had my name in big orange letters as well as a customized website address that featured my name in the website address. And a six-digit password.

Out of curiousity, I went to the website and filled in a bunch of bogus information. I was really appalled because the very last question it asked me was my Social Security Number. Worse yet, the website wasn't secured. No https, no little yellow padlock. That's just identity theft waiting to happen.

By the end, it showed me my postal address and name and asked me to confirm (retrieved from its own records). Of course, I adjusted that as well.

But I'm just amazed at how poorly they seem to care about their potential customer's data. The company that put the postcard together, Variable Thinking (obviously a low-budget fly-by-night shuyster -- they don't show up in Google and their website doesn't line up right in Firefox) has no concern for providing a good experience to their customers or their customer's customers. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

While I can't ever see myself in the market for a Chevy, Bruce Titus Chevrolet of Tacoma is one place I will certainly not consider.

Friday, May 04, 2007

It's not a mouse!

Is Disney really the ones they want to screw it? Ah, love the Chinese and their complete lack of comprehension of copyright and intellectual property. I guess that's what happens when your government doesn't let you own anything. When pressed, they did admit "It's not a mouse! It's a cat with large ears!" Welcome to Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Future of History

Saw this on a brochure today for "National Day of Prayer" and had to go find the quote.
A democracy is always temporary in nature. It simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government, because, sooner or later, voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the Public Treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the Public Treasury, with the result that every democracy will always collapse due to loose fiscal policy.

From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back again into bondage.
I thought it was interesting, even though it's probably not a single quote, but two ideas stuck together, origins unknown. Makes me curious about the surveillance state the UK is becoming.

Need Input

This guy went to a lot of trouble to very faithfully replicate Johnny 5 from the Short Circuit movie. (Singular. Anyone who says there was more than one is a liar!) Kinda cool, considering how complicated the designers were who developed the one for the movie. Bummer there's no YouTube clip to accompany it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hey Google: April was last month

iGag. What, were the Google Personalized Homepage (go to Google.com and click on "Personalized Home") people feeling left out after Google TPS and GMail Paper? Seriously, is "iGoogle" some sort of Maypril Fools or something?

This is a really, really awful name. The "i" thing has been done to death and we must once and for all cede it to Apple and walk away.

Seriously? I mean, for real? This isn't some kind of joke? It just looks stupid and sounds stupid. Like some cheap rip off copycat from a second-run has-been trying to take one last stab at glory by copying from someone else. Not the market leading innovator.

Ugh, ugh and ugh again.

Reset Button

Today feels like a good day for a reset. In the recent past, I abandoned more cake2, I dropped off my book list, I pretty much missed 40 Days of Community by not starting my reading on time and I've been consistently behind in my parenting class, always doing the reading the day before or day of. On the plus side, we made our budget for last month. So today, May 1, seems like a great time to press the reset button.

So, I'm ready to get on with things. With two mini-vacations and Mothers' Day in the next few weeks, I'm ready to face those and figure out what planning needs to happen.

I'm not back to my reading list, yet. I am working through the stack of magazines on my nightstand, so I'm still reading. I'm going to let Newsweek lapse. It was a free subscription and they wrote something recently that ticked me off to the point that I just decided it wasn't worth putting up with their stringent bias just for indepth on news. So that helped reduce the pile. I also got a little off-track with my daily Bible reading, so I started over today with Matthew chapters 1 and 2. I read two chapters in 40 Days and I will get caught up. Unfortunate is that I'll miss two of the next three services at church (will attend elsewhere) and will miss two of the next three small groups, meaning that I've pretty much missed the opportunity to be as relevant and contributive to this particular study. A shame, it's pretty good one.

And More Cake2 is back. I have 9-1/2 pounds to lose. This is doable. I'm gonna get it done, I'm going to be my own drill sergeant. New plan is that I have to do a certain minimum amount of exercise per day and failing that, I have to carry half of it forward. No more just missing a day.

I'm also planning to be in bed no later than 11:30 pm and out of bed by 6:00 am daily, save weekends.

I'm feeling good. I could write more, but I want to finish my breakfast, start a load of laundry and get out the door to work.

But yeah, I'm feeling good.