Monday, February 28, 2005

Browse Happy

A website telling you why you should switch from Internet Exploder and providing information on the choices out there.

Blinking Brake Lights

This doesn't seem like a particularly bright (hardy har har) idea. I can imagine sitting in rush hour traffic with a thousand of these things blinking in front of me, sending me into an epileptic fit (and necessitating the installation of the brain pacemaker from the prior post).

Brain Pacemaker

Borg nation comes closer to reality with this device.

Whoops, There Went My Brains

The Ear Vacuum Cleaner, good for removing wax, shed skin tissue, and peanut butter.

Get Yer Tickets Right Here

GreatTickets.com
OnlineTickets.com
Team-One-Tickets.com
StubHub.com

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I Don't Think So

Users of the beta version of Micro$oft's Anti-Spyware report that it busts Mozilla Firefox as a high threat piece of software.

Um, I think the software had it initially correct when it reportedly removed Internet Explorer as spyware on some beta users' machines.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Very Belated Vacation Photos

The wife and I went to San Diego for the holidays to visit the parents and some friends. Unfortunately she had to be back at work for New Years weekend so she came back early. In all, a good time away except for my wife not being there for half the trip, and a real crazy string of cancellations with family & friends I had planned to meet.

Here are a few selected photos from that week. I would have had them up here earlier but some idiot left his camera back at his parent's house.

We arrived Christmas eve and opened presents LATE with Mom, Dad, Charley, Dave, Lori, and myself. Christmas morning a chunk of my Dad's side of the family came over.


Christmas day at the Vickers' residence. L-R: Aunt Pat (the white puff of hair, with Uncle Earl hiding back there somewhere), Dad, Cousin Rachel, Cousin Robin (Rachel's mom), the lovely Lori Vickers, Cousin Matt (Robin's son), Mom, and Charley.

New Years day Mom headed out for a round of golf in the morning. I caught back up with her at Chi's house. Chi's family (the Luong's) are long time friends of my family. Although I never went to school with them, they lived a few streets away and we (my brother and I) would take turns playing baseball or football on each other's street.


Kaylee, Ho's daughter. Ho is Chi's oldest brother.


Chi's son Miles preparing to qualify.


Another shot of Miles.


Ho, assuming the New Year's day position.


The gang. L-R: Mike (Chi's Husband), Chi, Mom, Miles, Mike's mom, Dao (Mrs. Luong), Peter (Chi's younger brother), Kaylee, Anh (aka John, Chi's older brother), and Long (Mr. Luong).


Tanker, Mike & Chi's other baby.


Tanker photographs well.


Tanker snickers at a funny joke.

The day after New Years we went to see the Chargers play the Chiefs.


Modest tailgating before the Chargers / Chiefs game. Mom making the yummies here...



Charley eating the yummies...



Dad, Charley, Mom, Dave (long time friend of the family), and me.

Skip the Credit Card Altogether

Proceed directly towards the chip implant.

Fully automated is good, but one always wonders about Revelation 13:16-18.

Ah, Sweet Global Warming

Six inches earlier this week, six inches last night. For what it's worth, the weather person on the radio this morning says that next week is going to look a bit like this week, with the weekend being bookended by a couple more snow storms.


The Mazda is still hanging in there, 11 years and 163k miles later



Babe enjoying the benefits of local warming (cat seat sits directly above floorboard heating)

Ruh Roh

Microsoft is no longer going to do product registrations over the Internet and is going to require a telephone call to activate your copy of Windows XP for reinstallations.

Sounds like a great idea to me -- you've just spent a week trying to diagnose the problems of your rabid PC, which happens to be riddled with spyware (probably due to security issues with Windows and/or Internet Explorer). After resigning yourself to reinstall Windows, you're rewarded with hanging on hold for a half hour and then arguing another half hour with the Microsoft gestapo to get your series of letters and numbers.

This will require that they jack up the price of their products to cover the cost of minimum wage number and letter readers, of course.

Contact-less Credit Cards

Visa is now on the case, adding another piece to my fully automated universe.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Museum of Bad Album Covers

http://www.zonicweb.net/badalbmcvrs/index.htm

I regret to say some of my collection is on this site. The God-squad section seems to be missing this little gem, though:


Tiki Drive

The perfect gift for the coworker who happens to be a Polynesian fanatic.

The Fox Watches the Hen House

Remember trying to get rid of all that spyware off your computer and running across some horrendous junk called "Gator" that brought you suprise pop-ups on your computer even when you weren't surfing? Remember the makers of Gator getting sued for hijacking ads on websites? Remember when they threatened libel lawsuits for calling their junk spyware?

The "Chief Privacy Officer" of Claria Corporation, the folks that brought you the abomination known as Gator (or GAIN) has been appointed to the Department of Homeland Security. Swell.

UPDATE:
Is this the Department of Homeland Circus or what? Choicepoint, the genius' who handed out the personal information of about 145,000 folks is also a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security.

I heard that Connecticut was one of the states that had the most records compromised, so I guess I wait around for the foreclosure notice to go up on the house.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Another One Bites the Dust

I have the evidence[1]. Consummate bachelor, voice of WIHS and former room mate Neil Knudsen shocks friends, family, and perhaps God himself when he stepped up to the altar this past Friday and married his (again, unbeknownst to most of us) fiancé Iraida[2].

Jesus may have turned water to wine at a wedding, but Neil & Iraida planned and executed this wedding in one week. The service and dinner was held at the Inn at Middletown and, I have to say, it was a remarkable service.



Worship led by Carol and Brad.



The two lovebirds at the altar, approximately one and a half arms lengths apart.



Neil planting the ring and saying his vows...



...and vice-versa.



The big finish.



There they are, folks. Mr. and Mrs. Neil Knudsen.




The best man Constantine looking a bit evil from the redeye.



Their first dance.



Cast and crew representing Valley Bible EFC past and present. L-R: Desmond, the lovely Lori Vickers, the idiot himself, Constantine, Mr. and Mrs. Knudsen, Karin and Pete, and Craig.

Congratulations, Neil and Iraida!

[ download full size versions of these photos - 1.5MB ]

[1] I'm an idiot with graphics, so there is plenty of redeye here. If anybody can give me some pointers in Fireworks it would be much appreciated.
[2] For you yankees, it's pronounced EE-DI-DA. If correct pronunciation isn't your thing, it's UR-RI-DA.

Getting Windows Media Player Working In Firefox

A step-by-step guide on how to get WMP embedded files to play in Firefox. It involves using this extension to enable ActiveX controls on a Firefox-rendered page.

The sweet part of the plugin is that you can whitelist ActiveX controls, meaning you can specify which ones you'll allow to run on your machine while blocking all others. For 1.0 of Firefox it defaults to only whitelisting the WMP plugin.

While this seems secure, I can't escape the feeling that I'm unsecuring Firefox to the same level as IE.

Congratulations, Jon, U R Not Dumb

Co-worker Jon Kuehn celebrates getting a third of the way to his centennial last Friday and is also certified by the rest of his team that he is not dumb.



I M Not Dumb


The Motley Crew

[ download full size versions of these photos - 1.5MB ]

Another Idea For A Wedding Present

For the distinguished couple.

D20 Shifter

If I was one of those folks participating in live D&D role playing I might have one of these in my car, yelling LIGHTING BOLT! LIGHTNING BOLT! as I cruise down the street.

But I'm not.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Transformers Meet Secure Digital

I hereby name this device Flashimus Prime.

The Quicken and the Dead

File this under the "cheese moving" category...

We've recently upgraded to Quicken 2005. My bank also recently "upgraded," going through a row of mergers the past 5 years. Our First Federal Account became a Savings Bank of Manchester Account, which last year became a New Alliance Bank account.

When the account was under SBM we had access to a fairly robust web interface to perform transactions and pay bills. We could also download all transactions straight into Quicken without using any sort of export.

That went away when the account switched over to NAB. The nice web interface was replaced with something designed by HTML 101 students, and update from within Quicken was gone. That sucked royally but at least we could still download transactions in QIF format and import into Quicken.

Not any more! The upgrade to Q2005 dropped support for QIF format import, at least for bank transactions:
QIF technology is over 10 years old and was designed for technical support purposes, it was not for transaction download. QIF Data Import requires many steps to download, is a poor customer experience and can lead to duplicate transactions and errors.
Well, instead of a poor customer experience I get zero customer experience now. I'm not sure if I should shoot Intuit or my bank.

My bank does offer OFX export, which apparently is an open format and is based on XML. In the prior Quicken link Quicken claims that it supports OFX, but it really doesn't. It's not available anywhere in the software, but there is a QFX import. After a little research it turns out that QFX is just a bastardization of OFX, with a few tags being added that identify the financial institution and your account. When importing the QFX file, Quicken actually does a lookup on the financial institution just to make sure it exists in their database.

Why? Because apparently Quicken is charging financial institutions to use their specially brewed up import format. What that eventually will mean is that these fees will get passed on to the customer.

After giving the computer the blue streak of death, I tried the kludge suggested here and here. It seemed to work, and when trying to import the transactions a second time from the same file Quicken recognized that the transactions were duplicates and didn't import them.

So now I'll have to transmorgrify the OFX file and rename it everytime I download transactions from my bank. Thanks for improving my user experience, Intuit! We'll be giving Microsoft Money a look real soon as well as seeing about changing banks.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fishing In The Primordial Goo

I'm not a proponent of the 20,000 year old Earth theory[1], but this little story has to give you a little chuckle.



[1] I guess it's more of a faith-based belief than it is a theory.

Driving Shoes

A little something to slip into when cruising in the GTI. That's got to be the ultimate in nerdiness, and I have to say it brings a smile to my face.

No Comment

Please permit me to chuckle at these situations without commenting on the alleged reason for those situations existing.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Lucid Savant

The Guardian has an article on Daniel Tammet, a savant that can actually articulate some of the things that goes on inside his head.

How Engines Work

An interesting site containing basic animations and descriptions on the workings of various types of engines.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

In an earlier rant I submitted a modest proposal for reworking our experience at the grocery store. It looks like Fujitsu is already on the case.

I guess I just have to wait for the royalty checks to start rolling in.

Addendum To Surgeon General's Warning

Man Throws Lit Cigarette Out Window, Sets SUV Ablaze

As Dane Cook would say, a two for one bonus. Two things we all love to hate, cigarettes and SUV's.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

MiniDisc w/MP3 Playback to Arrive!

If you're Dutch is up-to-snuff, check out this thread.

Otherwise, check this discussion out as well as the data sheets on the three different models.

I can't find a release date, and there doesn't seem to be any discussion on upgrading earlier models. Looks like it's time to start saving up again...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Joey Umbilical Safety System

The perfect stocking stuffer for your friend who's due in January.

Bluetooth Rearview Mirror

Cool.

Apparently, Size Does Matter

Here's the perfect vehicle for hauling your four Mini Coopers.

If You Can't Beat 'Em...

The Register is reporting that Sony's Connect music service is going to offer up AAC encoded tunes (the same format that iTunes uses) for an upcoming Sony Ericsson phone that will have iTunes support built in.

Connect is built in to Sony's hideous jukebox software SonicSuckStage. I've recently tried out buying music from the site through SS. It's somewhat seamless (although the download mechanism looks like an afterthought), but does not offer you a choice of which ATRAC format you want (ATRACplus vs. regular ATRAC) or a bitrate. You end up getting your tunes in 132kb/s ATRAC, which is fine if you have tinnitus and listen to your tunes while jackhammering the airport runway.

What I'm really interested in is if my HiMD player/recorder is going to be upgraded so that I can listen to AAC files (which would be an answer to this). With the recent rumblings of possible MP3 support, it would be nice if Sony finally got something right.

RELATED LINKS:
CNet review of Sony Connect
PCMag review of Sony Connect
NYTimes review of Sony Connect
Washington Post review of Sony Connect


Monday, February 14, 2005

Mmmm... Coffee

The wife and I declined to put a coffee maker on the wedding registry when we were married a few years back. Mine worked perfectly fine and I'm loathe to get rid of stuff that works.

Well, it had recently come to my attention that our coffee maker was becoming, what's the word, SKANKY. The much-generous in-laws gave us a gift certificate to Williams and Sonoma for Christmas, and we ended up getting one of these.

Good:
- Grinds and drips all in one shot. Put the beans and water in, hit the go button, and then there's coffee. The grinding process can be bypassed in favor of your already-ground coffee.
- The coffee comes out HOT, and uses a metal carafe as the "pot" instead of a glass jug. This keeps the coffee hot for a long time without using a hot plate.
- Auto timer. This will also induce the grinder if needed.
- It includes one of those copper filters, or you can use paper filters instead. The copper filters allow a little coffee dust goodness into the brew, which (to me) makes a stronger, better tasting cup of coffee.
- It's a good looking unit.

Not-so-good:
- Cleaning everything after each use. Including the carafe and copper filter, there are 6 pieces of coffee maker to clean every time. The largest pain is cleaning the grinder - the steam from the brew goes back up to the grinder and tends to make coffee dust stick to everything. Getting to the grate of the grinder is a bit of a an inconvenience.
- It only makes 10 cups.
- That very first time you make coffee using the grinder scares the coffee right out of you. I mean, I thought I would press the On button, the machine would politely wait for me to leave the room, and then it would start grinding. Uh, no. It comes on right away, and it's a little loud. It also has a little bit of a bagpipe whistle to it at times. If you're Scotish, maybe that gets listed in the "Good" section of this review.

In all, a good spend. Thanks Mom & Dad! We'll keep the other coffee maker for our not-so-distinguished decaffeinated guests that come by.

The iTunes/Pepsi Giveaway

I own a MiniDisc recorder/player, and I drink lots of Pepsi products. I won a free tune from iTunes recently through the iTunes/Pepsi giveaway. My MiniDisc is asking, in the immortal words of Brian Regan, how do I get that goodness in me?!

VietPundit

Found an interesting blog from somebody I share a little with - being Viet-American. And, after reading through his "About Me" section, I find I have a lot more in common with him than ethnicity. Having grown up in San Diego, I probably even strolled through his neck of the woods in Orange County once or twice.

In another post he offers some interesting stats and thoughts on the voting direction of Viet-Americans in the last election. I'm woefully ignorant of my birth country's history, but what he says makes some sense to me.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Is This The Star Wars Kid?

Make sure you have your audio turned down a bit when watching this.

UPDATE:
New link, and apparently this guy has received a little attention.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Leave My Bloglines Alone

Everybody is reporting that AskJeeves has acquired Bloglines. Bloglines is a most excellent news aggregator, and even allows you to create your own blogs. If you're so inclines, it also comes with a tray icon that can notify you when you have posts in your subscriptions. Of course, after subscribing to a few dozen that notification becomes meaningless.

The acquisition can only mean that Bloglines will become a an ad-riddled or subscription-based service in the not-too-distant future.

A Neat Contraption

I've been wondering for awhile why somebody doesn't produce a dual wireless phone - one that works with your cellular service, and one that hops on your home wireless setup for landline calls.

There's a product now call CellSocket that might bridge that gap, even rendering the landline service obsolete. Interesting.

UPDATE: Dock-N-Talk is another device in the same category.

Monday, February 07, 2005

If You Can't Take the Heat...

...get out of the Mercedes.

Where's MY Invite?

Google is expanding the invite list for their Gmail service from 4 to 50 and may be gearing up for a public launch.

4 invites to 50.

AHEM.

Warming Mars Up

The Guardian reports that "US Scientists" suggest warming up Mars to make it inhabitable. Although no concrete details were provided, I propose sending our emissions-failed vehicles, our various gas-powered lawn machines, and few billion of our unregulatable bovine greenhouse gas producers.

In related news, environmentalists plan on staging a protest on the planet's surface.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Calvin Could Probably Build It

But he didn't play video games as much as Jason does.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!

Shape of, one ugly looking ring. Maybe it can detect Wonder Woman's invisible jet.

Suck It Up, Bill

Wired writes that the heavy visibility of the iPod on the Microsoft campus is ruffling the scales feathers of some management:
For example, an internal e-mail circular sent to several senior managers in mid-December talked about iPod shipments to Apple's nearby store in Bellingham.

The e-mail said: "FWIW, the gal at the Bellevue Square Apple Store said that they are getting in two shipments of 200 iPods every day to keep up with this week's demand, and are nearly constantly selling out."

The note prompted a curt reply from Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media division, who wrote the group: "I sure hope Microsoft employees are not buying iPods. We have great alternatives. Check out http://experiencemore."

Fifteen minutes later, the manager responded: "I don't know what I was thinking. I'm sure that Microsoft employees are not buying iPods, or Macs or PlayStations."
In related news, managers at Apple's corporate headquarters cackled at the news as they finished up their year-end reports in Microsoft Word and Excel.

Just How Stupid Is the AP?

From the AP: Web Site Claims GI Captured in Iraq

Fortunately, the identity of this GI has been confirmed here. Related reports here, here and here.