Saturday, July 31, 2010

120: Overplan

Martin looked at the wall. He'd printed out "Sunday" and "Monday" and the next 6 days after that on pieces of paper which he'd then carefully cut out and taped to the wall with painter's tape. Below each one, a blank sheet of paper. And below that, maps of the area. To be sure, he was just preparing for some vacation time, but were something to happen to him right now, if he were to suddenly expire in his little one-room apartment (cleaning would take up several days of his vacation, but he'd not written that down yet), whoever found him might have worried that he had been planning something far more sinister than a methodical tackling of all the chores he'd neglected in the three years since he'd last felt confident taking any time off of work from his job at the insurance company.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Eye-Fi is so cool

I may have written about Eye-Fi before, but I don't care. If you have a digital camera that uses SD cards (like most cameras these days) and you don't have an Eye-Fi card, you are missing out on some great potential for your camera.

Eye-Fi cards plug into your camera and make your camera awesome.

First off, they have a wireless antenna in them.  So as you take photos around your house, they are instantly transferred over your home network back to your computer.  (Or, if you're out and about, as soon as you get home, turn on your camera and your pictures are whisked to your computer.)

Some cards don't need a wireless network and establish their own in order to let you move photos to a laptop while you're out.  There's even a way to combine that with a slideshow program

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Odds and Ends 39


FAIL BLOG -- Answer Win


CROSSCUT -- How a quiet culture war is dividing Seattle - I Love Crosscut


ANDY SERNOVITZ -- Zombies On My Doorstep -- End the Phonebook Spam - In the first 12 months we lived here, we received 14 phone books. We had requested two, most of the rest of them were Tacoma in Pierce County instead of the Seattle/King County books that included our town.


SETH GODIN -- Getting Unstuck: Solving the Perfect Problem


MASHABLE -- 10 Great Geek Tees For Kids


ENGADGET -- Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid headed for production - 78 mpg, 500hp, $650k (but it does qualify for $7,500 tax credit!). Oh, and it's a nice looking car, to be sure.

-7-10- VIDEOS

After the break - Google's latest search story, the Coke Hapiness Machine, Darth Jobs and Minority Report's gloves were stupid (and unnecessary).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hey @Nintendo, why do you still not get it?

When my alarm goes off, I roll out of bed and the iPhone springs to life before my feet have even hit the floor.  I'm checking email, Facebook, Twitter and some games I play.

My very next step is down to the basement where the big TV is and the Wii Fit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Odds and Ends 38


ENGADGET -- Blockbuster avoids bankruptcy for now, but not NYSE delisting


MSNBC -- Fla. fruit stand begun by boy celebrates 50 years


UNCLUTTER -- A Thing a Day Challenge Get rid of one thing every day. Interesting, but seems like it would take forever.


LIFEHACKER -- The Five-Second Rule Could Actually Apply, But Mostly Outdoors Not your kitchen. Where your toddler is eating everything he can find off the floor. Gross.


TODAY'S BEST THING -- 100 Greatest Movie Insults of All Time. Way too much strong language for me to post a link here, but there are some true gems in there if you feel like Googling it.


INSIDE YOUR SEARCH -- How Google Works - a behind-the-scenes look at what happens when you search on Google


SETH GODIN -- But Who Will Speak for the Trees? - why bailouts for newspapers is a bad idea.

-8-10- VIDEOS

After the break - 3D holographic images (getting there), a parrot who does 20 tricks in 120 seconds and Super Mario scored live by a violinist.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Odds and Ends 37


ENGADGET -- Community-developed Pivot Power strip now available to order - clever - allows every power outlet on the power strip to accommodate a big bulky power brick


LIFEHACKER -- Seven myths about grilling


SEATTLE MET -- Google Map of Seattle Street Vendors


INFOSTHETICS -- Zoom Into Your Roof - In Belgium, a small plane carrying a thermographer recorded heatloss through roofs of a large part of Belgium. You can now go online and see how much energy/heat is being wasted through your roof and get help in minimizing heat loss.


*church friends - tread carefully, but still important*

FAIL BLOG -- Understanding of the Internet FAIL - Wow... this... wow... major failures all around. So, backstory. Girl (11?) posts video full of cursing saying how she's better than everyone (scroll part way down the page to see it. Or don't. It's 4:30 of swearing no one needs to see.) So then she posts it to YouTube after having apparently never ever ever read a single comment ever posted on that site. Flash forward to the second video (at the top of the page, remixed with autotune in the middle of the page and also re-enacted poorly with legos near the bottom) where she's crying because of the mean things people said and her dad gets in on it (by kneeling so that he can appear in the camera) throwing around useless threats about calling the cyber-police and that he's "back-traced" and knows who it is and "consequences will never be the same." It's one of those really tragic, but at the same time funny (because they brought it on themselves) type of things.


WSDOT -- Washington announced 'Electric Highways Project' (part of 'West Coast Green Highway' with Calif. and Ore.


MSNBC -- Calif. city fires all staff, outsources everything (many staff - not including police force - were hired back on a contract basis)

Google, exoskeletons and a rickroll replacement?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

So Long, 15th. Ave.

Saddened to learn via Crosscut that 15th. Ave Tea & Coffee is being re-renamed Starbucks. (If you look at the Street View for Google Maps, it's still showing Starbucks from before they renamed it as part of a test.) That was quick, articles from July 2009 talk about the pending change from Starbucks. Whiplash. Oddly enough, the domain for 15th. Ave. is Brand confusion, much?

The article from Crosscut, is, um... weird... treats Starbucks as a 14-year-old girl that the writer seems to fancy. Hey Ronald Holden, you're creepy!

Read more: The Starbucks siren and her many costume changes

Odds and Ends 36


ENGADGET -- Google Places' camera exposed in the convenience store wilds


SETH GODIN -- Is Everything Perfect?


TECHCRUNCH -- Woot’s Deal Of The Day: Woot! — Amazon Buys It. Price? $110 Million Weird. (thanks, Shari!)


YOUTUBE -- I missed it because I'm behind on my reading, but @OldSpice Guy @Isaiahmustafa posted lots of videos in response to tweets people sent him.


LIFEHACKER -- What Caffeine Actually Does to Your Brain - as I add this item, I'm lying in bed sick. I wonder how many of my current maladies are from having a lot of coffee on Friday and then none yesterday or today.


WASHINGSTON STATE HIGHWAYS -- Washington State Route 103 (he's driving and photographing and journaling all freeways in the state) - 103 is one of his shortest reviews.


WSDOT -- SR 99 - S Holgate Street to S King Street Viaduct Replacement - a *very* slick walk-through of what will be done as they prepare to and then do tear down the south end of the Alaskan Way viaduct. Multiple camera angles and everything. Really worth checking out.

-8-10- Videos after the break
Include "I Fought For You" by Sound Tank, trailers for social network movie(s), and a Star Wars reenactment on a subway.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What Are We Listening To? Christmas in July

Most of our 849 Christmas songs are currently unchecked. Starting in October or November we start unchecking a few a week so that by mid-November all of them are available for iTunes to play if it feels like it. (Even still, it can overwhelm my list or the Christian music list.) We are always on the lookout for genres and niches of Christmas music we don't have to make the playlist even more diverse.

Only #1 and #11 are currently checked (they are allowed to play year-round).

On with the merry list...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Odds and Ends 35


I, CRINGELY -- So Steve Jobs walks into a bar….. - Robert says that Apple's going to recalibrate the calculation for bars representing signal strength, and they'll be lower and Apple will turn around and blame AT&T. (And I add.. and use that as a reason to put the iPhone on Verizon Wireless by Christmas?)


ENGADGET -- Renault DeZir recharges while you stare, not while you wait -- ooh, pretty


SETH GODIN -- Do you have the right to be heard?


SEATTLE SCAPE -- Creating of a new central waterfront neighborhood


FAIL BLOG -- Product Fail - watch out, God's packing heat


ENGADGET -- Queen Rania of Jordan takes to TwitVid to Promote Her Country


ANDY SERNOVITZ -- You need personality -- "These shirts WERE tested on animals..."

-8-10- Videos after the break...

Testing a new lunar lander, an Eigenharp Alpha unboxing, more from the awesome/scary quadrocopters...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Treasure Principle

So The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving (Randy Alcorn) is an interesting book I've not read.

But I've now seen a manifestation of the principle one-and-a-half times. The first time was at a church we were attending in Southern California, but we left before the results. The second time was recently at work.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Are We Listening To? The New Stuff

In the past year, we've added 546 items to iTunes. CDs received at Christmas (like the Lord of the Rings trilogy), CDs we've purchased, iTunes giftcards we've received and free songs from iTunes really seem to add up.

Here are the top 25 most listened to from the ones added in the last twelve months:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chores and Responsibilities

Cross posting on Dad2Be and tvjames x blog.

A friend from work described this to me, so we've been working towards it for some time now. We're finally hitting the next big phase, so I thought I'd describe the process we're using for getting children involved in helping around the house.

The premise boils down to two distinct and different sets of tasks: Responsibilities and Chores.


These are day-of-the-week specific tasks assigned to a specific child.

What Am I Listening To?

I have a very elaborate playlist. I had posted it once, but I keep tweaking it slightly. At any time, it bubbles up about 350 songs, (the overall list is currently 4,261 songs), but that number can change each time iTunes plays a song. It eliminates certain artists I don't like, songs that have been played too much, songs that have been played recently, etc. And then it gives preference to songs I really, really like as well as songs I've just purchased (figuring I want to hear them more right after I buy them). It's very complicated and a little bit socialist in that it also tries to make sure stuff never gets buried.

Anyhow, the top 25 most played from my overall list...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Odds and Ends 34


ENGADGET -- Chrome overtakes Safari for number three browser spot in the US sez StatCounter. Wow.


I, CRINGLEY -- Apple Goes Semi-Pro, Part 2 - AppleTV to become a video game platform with iPods and iPhones as the Wii-like controllers? Wonder how often these are real products that he has inside knowledge on and how many times he convinces other companies to create products simply by inventing them and then suggesting that a particular company is already working on them?


SETH GODIN -- Goodbye to the Office


THE HIGH CALLING -- Wages and Roses


REDISTRIBUTING KNOWLEDGE -- Scrubs their "General Betrayus" Ad


MASHABLE -- 10 Fascinating Facts You Didn’t Know About Apple - fascinating might be an overstatement


UNCLUTTERER -- Ask Unclutterer: Encouraging kids to help out at home

-8-10- After the break...
Videos for a new product from Samsung, an upgrade from Ford and a music video from a Tesla fan that works best with the sound off.

Who Are We Listening To? Christian Music

iTunes lists 1,227 Christian songs in our list (though some, it's like "Really?" Is "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" really a Christian song just because it's Veggie Tales? Probably not, but it might not be worth the trouble to redo the smart playlists.)

And yes, "In Christ Alone" (#3, #8, #9) is my favorite song and we apparently have two copies of the same arrangement (#3, #8) from different albums.


Friday, July 16, 2010


4:59. Cool. I declare the mini-vacation officially over (as I kick back with one last cup of coffee and the latest episode of Futurama) and the weekend officially on. Ben and Lori are napping and Rachel's upstairs on PBSKIDS.ORG.

What a fantastic vacation. As I've looked around in the past and wondered how I was ever going to get anything ever done. I came to the conclusion that you had to wait until your children were a little older and able to entertain themselves.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

What Are We Listening To?

At the end of 2009, I posted lists of the overall top music we'd listened to and the top music we'd added that year.

I had intended to update sooner, but just didn't get to it. So, here is the first in a five-part update of top 25 (because 50 is too many for anyone to possibly care about) music lists.

What's Changed?

Since December, we've been loaned an iPod touch so Lori's been able to listen to more music in the car, I got rid of my iTunes enabled RAZR when I was issued an iPhone for work, and Lori and Rachel have discovered Pandora (meaning less iTunes use, but in Lori's case, another source for new music purchase ideas - recently most new music she learned about was featured on "So You Think You Can Dance" and more recently "Glee" - a lot of "Glee" music has been added recently.) Rachel and Lori's favorites still top the overall rankings for this and my list (coming later).

Full List

iTunes lists 6,971 music (and audio clips),

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Amazon's Got a Marketing Problem

So you've probably heard of the Kindle. Another multi-hundred-dollar gizmo for the technocrats, right?

Wrong. Sort of.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Odds and Ends 33


ENGADGET -- Hey Apple, you're holding it wrong


I, CRINGELY -- Doing the Right Thing - What BP could learn from Monsantao Chemical


SEATTLE VINTAGE -- Seattle Center under construction. Fascinating. Part 1 and part 2.


UNCLUTTERER -- Choosing Simple Living - if only it were that easy...


SETH GODIN -- Validation is overrated -- "You're handing over too much power to someone who doesn't care as much as you do."


MASHABLE -- Microsoft Invention Lets You Insert Batteries In Any Direction



-After the Break-

Videos: First Hill Streetcar, Woot Acquired by Amazon, Kittens in Autotune

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I dreamt the other night that a bunch of my coworkers went on strike. I had been out of the office the day they decided that. When I came in and found out about it, I was immediately opposed to the plan, but it had been decided. So, they weren't talking to me.

And of course, the organization wasn't talking to me, either. They had turned off the lights and people were removing computers and desks and cube walls.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

This time, I am annoyed with Comcast

The other day, I jokingly said "fighting with Comcast" in an email a blog post. I was being funny, but with their rapid response, they were immediately on the case and contacted me to ask if they could help. So now they're going to think I'm crying wolf, but tonight, I am annoyed with Comcast.

So, when we got set-up four years ago, they installed the wrong DVR. I'm not sure why. I don't know if the installer got a bonus, or didn't have any standard ones in his truck, or what. But we got an HD DVR instead of a regular DVR.

We don't own an HD TV. So every month for the past four years, we've been getting overcharged for a service we can't use. (I don't think we have any special

Well why not just take the box to your local Comcast office and swap it out, James? Seems simple enough. Yeah, if we want to give up all the programming we've recorded but not yet watched.

So I read today on Engadget about the new services coming out. They are really pretty awesome. myDVR ( ) will let you schedule, review and change your scheduled recordings from anywhere you have internet access. For now, it seems to be limited to regular internet. I figure that soon enough it will also be added to the iPhone/iPod app we have installed.

As I continued to read Comcast's website, I came across their page explaining their DVRs -

First, it gives conflicting information. At the top of the page, it says "Store up to 90 hours of your favorite shows." And then when you scroll down, it says there are two DVRs - an HD one that stores 300 hours of standard or 60 hours of HD - and a standard one that stores 45 hours.

So... conflicting information and not even on different pages.

But, I saw that this afternoon and thought "Ok, so I'm at least getting a larger hard drive out of the deal. I would consider that enough to not worry about the extra $2-3 a month we're paying."

So I loaded up the DVR this evening and looked at what we had saved. 2,292 minutes, or 38.2 hours. And it says it's 76% full. So that puts its total capacity at 50.26 hours.

So... I thought "Ok, maybe I don't even have an HD DVR installed."

So I called Comcast (it tried to get me off the phone, told me they were experiencing longer than normal wait times. I will give them credit here, I can't remember a time when I've had to wait very long and tonight was no exception.) I got this nice guy who's name I didn't catch. I asked him if there was a way, by looking at the status screen of the DVR, if I had an HD or standard DVR.

He said he could check from there without me doing anything and confirmed that I did in fact have an HD DVR and then had me tune to the local CBS affiliate's HD channel to test. Big whoop, I don't own an HD TV. So it's letterboxed - but it's also got one or more data lines flickering at the top (they'd be outside the overscan on an HD TV - but on a non-HD, you can see them making it not worth watching, even if it's letterboxed.)

I asked him about capacity and he said that the box holds 60 hours standard or a meager 15 hours HD. I said that I read on the website that the HD box held 60 hours HD and 300 hours standard and he laughed (not in an insulting way) and said he *wished* they had boxes that big and started talking MB numbers.

So the CSR isn't versed on the offerings listed on the website. Does this mean that people getting DVRs today are getting much nicer than the 4-year-old box we have?

And then to make matters worse, I'm looking at my bill. Right at the top it says "Starting June 11, 2010, ESPN 3D will be available on channel 898 on the Digital Starter level of service. Call 1-800-COMCAST for details." According to my bill, we have Digital Starter, but if we tune to the channel, it says a subscription is required. I actually don't want any sort of ESPN, HD, 3D or otherwise.

And elsewhere on my bill: "HD Starter Triple Play Includes: Digital Starter with Video On Demand, Included Video Equipment, High Speed Internet, Digital Voice Unlimited" and yet right below that, separate charges for "SD Set Top Box" and "HD DVR Service (includes HD Technology Fee)"

So, Comcast, if you would be so kind as to address...

#1: Why did we receive an HD box if we didn't have an HD TV?

#2: We've now been charged more than necessary for four years. But can't really return the box because we've got a bunch of stuff on it we want to watch. Any recourse?

#3: What *should* the capacity of our box be?

#4: Are people today paying the same price and getting a much better box?

#5: Why does your website conflict itself?

#6: Are we getting a bunch (and also being charged for) of channels we can't even watch in HD? Are there also channels we're supposed to be getting that we can't get?

#7: What "equipment" is included in the "included video equipment" that comes with "HD Starter Triple Play"?

#8: What is the "HD Technology Fee"?