Archive: August, 2006

President Bush vs. Governor Bush

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 31, 2006, 2:37 PM | comments: 4

Trying out Google Apps

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 31, 2006, 1:47 PM | comments: 0

I got approved to try Google Apps today. I decided I'd try out using Gmail as my mail server on the domain. So far, I like what I see.

It's easy enough to handle the e-mail switch. You set your DNS MX records to point to a few different domains of theirs, and off you go. I was receiving e-mail there in ten minutes.

I have a couple of different motivations for checking this out. First of all, I love the searchability of Gmail, and the fact that it's simply everywhere. And with POP access, you can download the mail and "own" it even if Gmail were to disappear or start charging for it.

The other thing is that I really kind of want to get e-mail service off of my server. I'm already doing around 30% average peak CPU utilization (because of some really bad code that's three years old), so whatever I can pull off will help.

If I like what I see, I may switch over my primary domain as well. We'll see!

A milestone has been reached

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 31, 2006, 12:00 AM | comments: 5

This evening I successfully made a post and reply with a newly registered account in POP Forums v8. It even logged the security actions.

Half way there!

The never-ending coming of age story

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 30, 2006, 3:07 PM | comments: 0

I had a breakthrough of sorts at counseling Monday, actually during the drive afterward. It's not something that I think will help make me a better person or anything, but it really helps me understand my personality.

Toward the end of the session, he started to ask me a bit about my film making aspirations. I described the scene for him from my brief visit to Allentown a few weekends ago. We went to see Catherine's brother, and several of his friends came up from DC. All of these guys grew up in a really scary place, and most of their peers and relatives did not get out without jail, illegitimate kids, etc. The one guy though, he was an amazing story teller, and I though, this guy would be great in a short indie film, just telling the old stories. I was fascinated by it all.

When I started my drive to work, I thought a little about what my first screenplay was about, about screenplay ideas, and the movies that I like the most. It occurred to me at that point that they're all coming of age stories. That's when I had the moment of clarity, so to speak.

I'm obsessed with the process of growing up. I used to think that was something you did in your teens and twenties, but I guess that if I've learned anything in the last year, it's that the process never ends for the self-aware. The constant learning, making mistakes, the evolution... it's a fascinating process. I think about it all of the time.

And it also explains a lot about my personality and what I like to do. I coach because I help kids in that evolution in some way. I have a lot of younger friends because they're in the toughest part of the process, and seeing them evolve helps me understand myself better. I like Cameron Crowe movies because they're all about coming of age.

Like I said, nothing particularly amazing about the realization, I just understand how I "add up" more than I did before.

The GOP is a spammer

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 29, 2006, 11:29 AM | comments: 6

I keep getting e-mail from the GOP (which was not surprisingly caught by my spam filter) with no unsubscribe link. They even have a tracking pixel in the e-mail.

Spamming bastards.

24 Snakes on a Plane

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 28, 2006, 4:06 PM | comments: 1

24 won best drama and Kiefer Sutherland won best actor in the Emmy's last night, as it should have been. All is well with the world. They also got best directing for the first episode of the season, where they killed off all my favorite characters (bastards).

Went to see Mutha Fuckin' Snakes On A Mutha Fuckin' Plane yesterday. Believe me when I say that I'm shocked at how entertaining it was. It's certainly not going to win any Oscars or anything, but it was a really fun movie with a pretty outstanding cast. Sam Jackson is the shiznit. He's mutha fuckin' Shaft, of course.

Strange and random attack

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 28, 2006, 3:02 PM | comments: 1

Around noon today, my Web server became non-responsive. I remoted into the box to see that the CPU was pegged, all from the various Web serving app pools. Network traffic wasn't bad at all.

So I ran our old friend netstat just to see if there was any one IP that had excessive connections, and sure enough, there was one coming from China, hitting all of my IP's on port 80. Pretty weird stuff. I setup a security policy to block the entire subnet from China, and the problem went away.

I notified my host, The Planet, and they turned on some device that guards against traffic floods, from one source or many. I wonder if perhaps this had been going on for awhile, because it's a lot more responsive now. Very strange stuff. Very random too.

Wisdom of crowds my ass

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 26, 2006, 10:26 AM | comments: 1

Digg Forces Shutdown of Domain

Note all of the comments saying how Digg now suX0rz!!!!111 because of this action. Do these kids even live in the real world? Trademark law is pretty straight forward, and you have to police your mark or can be challenged. Today it's some kid doing something he thinks is harmless, tomorrow it's AOL.

But all of those commenting people seem to think that Digg is doing something evil here. Get over it. They're doing what they have to in order to protect their brand. In my opinion, they're also keeping some scab from leeching off of their success too, which I think is 100% valid.

Last Geauga Lunch

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 25, 2006, 1:44 PM | comments: 0


posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 22, 2006, 12:54 PM | comments: 1

Hersheypark - 8/19/06

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 21, 2006, 2:37 PM | comments: 3

I'm kind of exhausted on traveling this summer, but Catherine wanted to go to Hersheypark, and I had never been there, so I agreed. The truth is that I didn't have any real strong expectations, but I was absolutely blown away by the park.

We arrived in Harrisburg the night before, and stayed there because it's a lot less expensive than staying in Hershey. We stopped the next morning at a Giant grocery store to buy discount tickets, off $10 each. They also gave coupons for a free souvenir "Xtreme Cup," a $6.29 value. Not bad! I was surprised to see that regular price was $44, more than Cedar Point even.

As soon as we approached the property, I was impressed by the level of development with the arena and excellent traffic management. I was also impressed with the relationship that Hershey Entertainment has with Hershey the chocolate company. Nice arrangement to have the chocolate company build a free dark ride near the gate.

The entrance area reminds me a lot of Busch Gardens Will... er... Europe. It's very clean, very lush, and really quite beautiful without being cheesy. We entered the park just before 10, so beyond that they had not yet let people into the bulk of the park.

Going with the flow of traffic, we got as far as the location for the Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge, and seeing a short line, jumped right on. The theme is still pretty silly, and not really interesting. However, it's another one of those shoot-the-target dark rides, and those are kind of fun. I scored half the points in my car, and we still lost because the other car had four teenage boys. Not fair! We got little chocolate bars on the way out.

There were a lot of really good smells on the midway from there out. I found most of the food offerings to be kind of average, and a little on the expensive side, but I also didn't get to try some of the more interesting places. Perhaps next time.

We went to Storm Runner next expecting a crazy line, but there was no line. We were in the station in less than 15 minutes, and at that point decided we might as well wait for the front. It's funny how brave Cath has become. She wouldn't even get on a ride like this when I met her a few months ago.

The ride is really quite striking all the way around, and I'm amazed the way it was squeezed in (as is the case with many of the rides in the park). The station is nice and very bright inside. The lighting on the top hat at night is very cool. It appears the supports are filled with some kind of dampening material too, because it's very quiet. The dispatch seems a little inefficient. The track switch moves as soon as the train clears the top hat, but the next train just sits. I don't get that at all. Unless the hydraulic motor is using that time to reset, it seems like they could boost capacity a little.

While short, this is still the best use of Intamin's hydraulic launch that I've seen, and I think it beats the pants out of Dragster. I absolutely loved it! Absolutely great fun from start to finish. This is really one of my favorite steel coasters, certainly among the top ten if I actually ranked them.

We did the Boomerang next. Credit. Move on.

Next up, Wildcat. I've been anxious to get on more GCI coasters, because I love Roar at SFA, and Gwazi at least shows promise at Busch Tampa (if they'd actually run the damn thing and maintain it). Wildcat exceeded my expectations by a lot. It was a little rough on the pullout from the first drop, but generally speaking it was full of surprises and just doesn't let up. Well done! We had a nice conversation with a woman in line about PKI. She had not heard that Sonny was down, but the kids love Sponge Bob, so we told them they'd love Nick Universe.

Working our way around the midway, which is beautifully themed with the grand coaster stations and county fair style food trailers, we hopped on the Wild Mouse. Pretty standard stuff, but we got our best ride later. I love mouse rides. I couldn't figure out, however, why they were not pairing couples and sending cars around with only people in them. We only waited ten minutes, but still, why keep people waiting at all if you don't have to?

Lightning Racer is a stunning looking ride with a grand station. I was excited to finally get on a coaster with Millennium Flyer trains, and they really are quite beautiful when you see them up close. As for the ride? Awesome! Those trains track so well. The dueling aspect of the ride sounds like a gimmick, but I don't think they had to make any substantial compromises at all in the design of the coaster. It has amazing drops, surprising laterals, great air time... really the whole package. So far, Hershey was impressing me on every turn! Really great crew on this ride as well. We did one lap on each side.

After grabbing some lunch from the fairly mediocre food court area near Storm Runner, we jumped on the monorail. It's a neat ride, but the views are frequently obstructed by buildings or other non-interesting things. From there we headed to the older section of the park, and it was getting crowded. Sooperdooperlooper was closed, with no sign of activity, and that was a serious bummer. We took a spin on the kissing tower, and then decided to take a break around 3 p.m. We ran up to Allentown to visit Cath's brother and friends. No, we didn't stop at Dorney.

We returned to the park at 7:30 p.m., and an afternoon shower chased away a fair amount of people. Cars were parked well out beyond the arena, so clearly they were having a good day.

We picked up where we left off, and got in line for the Comet. I was really impressed that this thing still operates with friction brakes, and the computer actually parks the train with them. Neat. What a fantastic ride this is too. Not an extreme air time machine, but really great fun, and it's maintained very well. The topography kind of hides just how big the first couple of drops are.

We climbed the hill up to the flume. The boats were packed in and they were running at high capacity. Really nice station, and the ride itself looked like it was in fantastic shape. It really made me nostalgic for White Water Landing, with its double chutes. Loved it.

Next was Great Bear, and my one negative on the trip, though I'll get to that in a moment. From the ground, I was really struck by the speed throughout the entire course, and wondered how it would feel on the ride itself. It even comes flying into the brake run pretty fast! I also wondered if the turn off the lift would interfere with the general pace of the ride, but it's one of the neatest things I've seen on an inverter in a long time.

Great Bear is fast and relentless, and pushes you harder than most of the B&M inverts that I've been on. It's very smooth, and while it has the standard set of elements, they're all taken very quickly and over very cool terrain. I'm not sure why you don't hear more about this ride. I really dig it!

Now about the negatives here. The ride itself is outstanding. The crew is really bad. First off, the kid measuring height let collar-flip-Fitch boy on the rear dispatch talk him into allowing a little girl ride who was too short. Was she in any real danger? Probably not, but the point of measuring is so that you don't have anything to interpret or make a decision on. The kid is in or out, and that's that. Collar-flip boy was also slow, and showed no signs of hustle at all. I've never seen so many trains stack on a coaster with only two trains. Dispatches were at least two minutes apart, and I doubt the ride was getting even close to a thousand people per hour. This was the longest line we waited in for no other reason than a crappy crew and really bad protocol.

Generally speaking, the entire loading procedure is inefficient. Start by getting those lazy asses off stools. They don't need to sit for the seven seconds between trains. Let's not put drinks on controls either. Going back and forth through the rows takes too long while checking restraints. You've got four people, have them each do the two seats on their side in each of their four rows. Put a window around the lead controls so the three employees standing around can't distract the operator. Someone needs to visually check restraints as the train leaves. Ready signals should be arms out with a thumb, not an OK signal held close to the chest. And for God's sake, get the operators where they can see each other. They're going to dispatch with someone in the train one of these days.

We snagged our final new coaster on the mine train, and all things considered, it's not a bad ride at all. The helix goes on forever! It's not Adventure Express, but still lots of fun. Strange retrofit with stiff ratcheting lap bars.

With almost an hour to spare, we wanted to roll back to Lightning Racer. It was drizzling a little, so I suspected it would be faster. Wow does it look amazing at night. That whole part of the park is beautiful, and I hope the new water stuff for next year doesn't ruin that look. The LR crew did a quick job of cleaning up a protein spill, and we were off once more. Another fantastic ride! It was substantially faster I think.

The fair trailer food stands lured us in with their fried stuff, and we snacked on a funnel cake and fries. Good thing the park was hilly to help with the calories.

As we headed out, the rain started to pick up a little. I noticed empty cars running on the mouse at five to 11, so we jumped on it. With fewer cars on, it appears to run with the blocks wide open. It was the single most intense mouse ride I've ever had, and Catherine really freaked out. Good times!

By the time we got up the flyers, the park was still open, so I jumped on. I was disappointed that they really don't snap at all. I got the structure to make a little noise, but I think the cables were too short or something. You just couldn't get a good stall. I tried. :)

So overall, Great Bear crew and operations aside, I was absolutely enamored with the park. Lightning Racer and Storm Runner are absolutely amazing rides. I really look forward to going back again.

Sunday morning, we ran out to Chocolate World to do the brainwashing, er, I mean, dark ride. Didn't know that chocolate was so complicated to make. I actually managed to get through without buying anything. Catherine wasn't so lucky.

Hersheypark ranks high on my list of places to return to.


posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 20, 2006, 1:02 AM | comments: 3

Hersheypark is the shit. Seriously. More later.

Secret wiretapping illegal... thank God

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 18, 2006, 1:01 PM | comments: 2

A judge finally had the good sense to say that the warrantless wiretapping that the Bush administration is doing is illegal. It's about time.

I don't think you'd find a person in this country who is against wiretapping. Putting aside all of the fear creation about the "war on terror" (which has nothing to do with Iraq, still), there's no question in my mind that you can catch bad guys by wiretapping. What's not acceptable is doing it without a warrant or any kind of accountability.

Think hard about this, particularly in a day when the feds are jailing journalists. Do you really trust the government to wage a war on the "enemy" without clear definition, that does so in the name of protection without indicating who is at risk, or what the actual threats are? That scares me more than terrorists. What are you really worried about exposing that you won't go through the legal and accountable channels?

I finally saw Good Night, And Good Luck, and listening to the McCarthy speeches reminds me a lot of the things government officials say today. There's so much fear, and Americans are buying into it enough to overlook what a court now says is outright unconstitutional. That's the scary stuff to me.

More on Cirque's Delirium

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 18, 2006, 10:06 AM | comments: 0

I couldn't find any information about Nitza'a recorded stuff (she opened for the Delirium show), so I wrote the e-mail address on her Web site, and she actually wrote back! She said her first album should be out in a couple of weeks.

She also passed along names of performers. The violinist was Catherine Ledoux, who doesn't appear to have anything online. The singer with the pipes was not in fact Jacynthe, but Amanda Stott, who I think frankly was a stronger singer and explains why I didn't think the recorded performance was as good. Still Canadian though, and I'll try not to holder her country singing roots against her. ;)

I need a good Web designer

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 17, 2006, 5:13 PM | comments: 3

I need to find a good Web designer who makes things pretty and shiny, yet light weight. I have some projects I'd like to wrap up that already have a fair amount of code around them. And they have to work cheap. :)

What Jeff is listening to right now

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 9:57 PM | comments: 3

Venus Hum finally released another album called The Colors In the Wheel a week or two ago. Good stuff! This one is more like Depeche Mode meets Bjork meets Sarah McLachlan. Some fantastic sounds on this record, particularly the track "Pink Champagne" which lets loose vocals loose over a very 80's sounding bass-head noise bed (I should be a music critic for making up shit like that). Well worth the purchase.

(And how cute is Annette making Pink Champagne?)

I also bought Cirque du Soleil's Delirium since I saw the show a couple of weekends ago. I wasn't immediately thrilled with it, because the vocal performances aren't generally as strong as the live show. They also cut the African stuff and the insane "drum battle" from the show. The strength of the album is the tracks performed by Jacynthe (which if you listen to the video clip on her page is pronounced "ja-sant", French-like). She had the pipes that really impressed in the arena.

And of course, today Blue Man Group released Live at The Venetian - Las Vegas. What I can really appreciate about this album is just how good the musicians are, and I'm amazed at how well it captures the energy of the show. Some of the songs are from their first album, Audio, which I never bought because the preview samples aren't impressive. They're very impressive here though. "Chant Jam" in particular, which is the last song before the finale (what I call the "TP fuck") makes you want to book a flight and go see it now. It's amazing stuff.

Next on the horizon is probably more contemporary Indian music, which I found more of on iTunes. I love that stuff.

Spicy chicken is back!

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 9:16 PM | comments: 1

After being gone for more than a year... it has returned!

A decision for POP Forums

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 1:01 PM | comments: 1

I've been thinking a lot about what I really want to do with POP Forums when I finally finish v8. The truth is, because it's actually the center piece of the various sites I run, it holds up everything else for me, and that's kind of been torturing me for the better part of two years now.

So to think about what I'll do with it, I have to think about where it has been. It started as a simple app for Guide to The Point (which is now PointBuzz). It was old ASP, it was simple, it was fast, and it was far easier to manage than UBB. It even ran on an Access database. It was absolutely full of security holes. But wow, it was so simple, basically three or four ASP's.

But I made it a self-contained app, and I sold it for about $200 a license. I made a couple grand that year (2000). ASP seriously lacked community back then, and it never did draw people in the way that ASP.NET has.

In 2002, I ported it to ASP.NET. That was a lateral move, because it lacked any object-oriented coding. What an embarrassing mess that was. It wasn't until a year later that I started from scratch and wrote what largely remains today. It's not ideal, but it works fairly well. In late 2003, I removed the licensing and started giving it away, because I just didn't feel there was a market for selling it.

I did a point release of sorts in late 2004, but there was no significant upgrade. It has essentially been the same for three years. Why? I think in part it's because there's no financial incentive to keep doing it. For my own use, it doesn't perform horribly enough to stress about it, so there's little internal incentive.

Money generally doesn't motivate me, as I really only need enough to eat, pay the mortgage, travel now and then and buy electronic toys. I've had the potential to be a six-figure earner for a long time now, but I choose not to do it, opting instead to live a comfortable lifestyle and spend more time doing my own thing.

That pretty much leaves just one incentive to finish the revision, and that's to enhance my own sites and start over from a far more manageable code base. Then what? The way I see it, there are several options...

  • Keep it all to myself. (Insert evil laugh here.) OK, I don't think that's really a choice I would take, but for the sake of completeness, there it is.

  • Continue to give it away. To be honest with you, I'm not so sure I want to do that anymore. I hate that Web culture doesn't see enough value in much of anything anymore to pay for it. Yet, people buy bling and ringtones for their wireless phones at ridiculous cost. By giving it away, am I saying I don't think there's any value in the product?

  • License it inexpensively, with source code, on the honor system. There's a lot of appeal here because even if someone doesn't want to pay for it, they can get something out of it by looking at my code and hopefully learning something from it (even if it's how not to do things). You can download, play, and if you see that value I hope is there, you can pay for it.

  • License it, and lock it down. That means no code to see, and it won't work without a key. If I did go this route, I suspect the return on investment would be low since this is very much a commodity item many aren't willing to pay for. See: phpBB (which is crap, by the way). I think I'd at least have to do a "lite" version the way I did in the old ASP days, as that sold a lot of licenses.

The biggest point in all of that is actually the last one, about it not being something a lot of people see value in. Sometimes value isn't defined in terms of quality, but relative to what else is out there and at what cost.

This is what I've been thinking about.

New Blue Man Group album... OMG!!!!11

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 10:19 AM | comments: 0

Those crazy blue bastards just released Live at The Venetian - Las Vegas, an actual live album. I'm so excited I could nearly cream my pants!

They also have a video available for purchase from the show, the whole "Rods and Cones" song where they're using the big strap-on instruments.

Can't wait to download it tonight, since I've seen that show twice. I'll probably spend the two bucks on the video too.

The turning point for Apple: The Microsoft alliance

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 15, 2006, 12:32 AM | comments: 0

This was the coolest thing I've seen in awhile. YouTube has the MacWorld announcement where Steve Jobs returned to Apple, and announced its alliance with Microsoft. Watch it... it's very interesting.

Jobs was very forthcoming at the time about the state of the company. When you look at where Apple was in 1997, and follow it through to 2000, then 2003, then this year with the Intel transition, it's really one of the greatest turnarounds in technology that I can think of in my lifetime. They were becoming virtually irrelevant back in the late 90's. Look at where they are now.

Also notice the people in the crowd booing. What caught me is the bald guy in the crowd at the very end of the video, shaking his head. What's that about? While it's funny to hear Jobs slam Microsoft now, he was right at the time about hating Microsoft just to hate Microsoft. I think it's fair that Office helped the Mac survive, and later it was the iPod that allowed it to stand on its own.

Those booing morons remind me a lot of the Linux geeks and platform religion assholes of today. If they spent any of that energy making their favorite things sexy and relevant to every day users, we might have a very different world today.

The Four Agreements

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 14, 2006, 3:08 PM | comments: 0

Catherine bought me a copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, a book that outlines four basic principles that make your life easier to live and help you achieve real happiness. Generally the concepts are probably not new to anyone, but you may or may not have chosen to really believe any of them.

The book begins by explaining the process of domestication, which in a nut shell says that we're a product of our environment. Our belief system isn't really our own, but rather one we learn from our parents, siblings, church, school, etc. We adhere to these rules ("agreements") because not doing so causes punishment, that doesn't feel good, and so we stick with them even if they're not entirely natural.

From there, the four agreements are intended to apply to all that you do to help you revise and evaluate the agreements you've made in life.

1: Be impeccable with your word
By word, he means not just what you say, but what you do. Everything you do and say has to be really you, not a lie that you make up to protect yourself or others. That one hits home not so much for me, because I decided long ago to try and tell it like it is, but for a lot of people I know. They avoid telling the truth, or avoid disclosing things, because they feel at risk, that people will see them a certain way or that some harm will come to them. The big issue I have with that is that the maintenance of dishonesty, or doing things not true to who I am, wear at me in ways that I can't deal. That's why it was so easy for me to make this agreement even before I knew what it was. I have friends that could make their lives infinitely better if they did the same, regardless of the discomfort that may come with it at first.

2: Don't take anything personally
This one is harder for me. As much as I tend to not worry what other people think, sometimes I let things get to me. The idea behind this agreement is that nothing is about you. We all have very different realities and perceptions, and because they don't always overlap, one person's thoughts and feelings are entirely about their reality and perception, not yours. That's very hard to accept sometimes, but it is certainly true. If you believe what others say, it might be because you believe them, and only you can really know you, in your reality.

3: Don't make assumptions
Few things in life are more destructive to relationships of all kinds, whether they be to casual acquaintances or lovers. When you try to fill in the blanks yourself, you never get it right. The classic example he gives in the book is about the spouse that feels if their partner really knows them, then they can anticipate their needs. That's what I call mind reading, and as much as I want to be Professor Xavier, I can't do it. You have to ask questions to achieve clarity. If you can't get the answers you're looking for, then see agreement above.

4: Always do your best
This one isn't as obvious as the title, because "your best" is something that evolves continuously. Sometimes your "best" is actually piss poor, but other times it's above average. If you over do it, you expend energy you don't have, perhaps for some reward that isn't fulfilling to you (like people who work 60 hours because of the paycheck), and then you don't like yourself for it. Or you do something less than your best, and you hate yourself for that too. That's no fun in either case.

It's a pretty good book, and easy enough to read quickly. Like I said, a lot of it is kind of common sense, but reading it is kind of inspiring and gives you a little perspective. It's very obvious that if you really do stick to these four principles in your daily life, you can be happier, no doubt about it.

Windows Live Writer... so what?

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 14, 2006, 10:46 AM | comments: 0

Wow, I'm being a real poopy pants this morning. I clearly need some Mountain Dew or whatever gets keeps to wake up in the morning.

I've seen a bunch of blog posts about Windows Live Writer from the last few days. Excuse me for asking the obvious question, but so what? I'm scratching my head trying to figure out what's so nifty about this, especially since it's a Windows app and not something Web-based. I'm remarkably unimpressed.

Make Xbox 360 games, for a price

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 14, 2006, 10:39 AM | comments: 3

One of the reasons that Microsoft has been able to break into the video game business is because they've done a good job sleeping with developers. Not literally of course, but they've gone out of their way to help dev shops make the most of the hardware and get their stuff out there. That's why there are so many great games out there.

So now they've announced a development tool for the masses so anyone can develop for the console. This is a fabulous idea... except for the price. Why would you do something so brilliant to foster indie-style software development and then charge them for it.

Come on guys... the Xbox group is the one part of the company that gets it. Don't do something stupid like this.

So many nice days!

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 13, 2006, 12:18 PM | comments: 2

For all of the rainy crappy days we had in May and June, July and August have been pretty stellar. What surprises me the most is that this month we've had so many warm days without humidity. I'm all about that "dry heat!"

We had a small party last night, a much scaled down luau (scaled down because I just didn't give people enough notice to plan for it), and it got down right chilly by 8 p.m. Today is beautiful as well, and while not hung over, I'm sensitive to light and noise. ;) I think today will be a movie day!

I'm thankful for nice weather. Looking forward to fall as well.

Another volleyball kid leaves the nest

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 11, 2006, 10:45 PM | comments: 0

I had dinner tonight with one of my Elms volleyball kids. She's going off to school in a couple of weeks, and being the douche I sometimes am, I missed her grad party. So I thought I'd make it up to her.

She's one of four or five kids that, in the course of the nine seasons I've coached since '97 or so, is someone that I'll remember for the long term. Each of these kids has, in various ways, made me realize what it is to coach, and had an impact on me in some ways greater than the one I had on them.

In this case, Sara was what you'd call, a little clumsy I guess. Like most of the kids at that school, she was brilliant academically. She got a bit behind in her skill development, in part I think because her former coach just didn't take the time to work with her. She was a JV kid up through her junior year.

When I began coaching, I wasn't sure exactly how she fit into the system. Because she was so smart, kind, non-judgmental and maybe even a little naive, the last thing you would want to do is just hide her somewhere and figure she'll be happy doing whatever. And fortunately she asked questions from the beginning. Lots of questions. Sometimes she forced me to think about skills in ways I hadn't even thought of before.

For example, kids have asked me since the beginning how far away they should be from the net when they start their approach. There's no good answer because every kid has a different stride, longer or shorter legs and various levels of agility. So I used to tell kids that it didn't matter provided they were a certain distance from the net. So she stood that distance, turned away from the net, and did her approach. She said, "I start from here." Since then, I tell kids that's how you figure it out.

Her will to learn, and to be challenged, was remarkable. She made up for three years of skill deficiency in just a few short months. It was absolutely amazing.

Her situation made me realize that coaches, and indeed most people that serve in a teaching role, need to have a great deal of knowledge, but they act more as guides and motivators for the people they mentor.

Sara was also the kid that made me realize that you can't set limitations for kids, because their potential really isn't clear. If you push them, and they're open to being pushed, they can far exceed your, and their own expectations.

Good luck in school, Sara!

Product diversity would lead to more stability

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 11, 2006, 4:38 PM | comments: 0

Despite a couple of really strong months and higher traffic, my sites are actually down slightly in terms of revenue, which is a bummer. They're also starting to chill because of the cooling in advertising that comes with seasonal business.

I have a bunch of domain names, and a bunch of ideas, on other community type sites I'd like to create. The problem is that they're so much work at first. They're expensive too. I ramped up CoasterBuzz quickly because I paid for clicks to get people there early on. And the amusement space wasn't exactly a hard nut to crack either.

But doing stuff in other areas of interest would diversify my offerings and perhaps lead to more stability in the revenue I could generate from my sites. I just gotta figure out how to execute on that.

Wishing I could see Delirium again

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 11, 2006, 12:40 AM | comments: 0

I was checking out the official Cirque du Soleil: Delirium site because I was curious to see who the violinist and one singer were (no luck), and they had a video montage of the show (let the header load, it's there).

It made me think of the "drum battle" they have, which is one of the most visually and aurally intense things I've ever experienced. Absolutely amazing, and now I feel like I'd really like to see the show again.

The soundtrack is not particularly impressive, unfortunately. The vocal performances don't match the scale of the live show, and they entirely cut some of the more interesting stuff, including the African, tribal and drum stuff.

Wireless carriers suX0rz!!!!11

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 11, 2006, 12:20 AM | comments: 2

Stephanie got the first of her two dragonfly tattoos yesterday (fucking awesome work, by the way), and I snapped a pic with my camera phone when I saw her today. So she sent me a text asking for me to send the pic to her phone so she could show friends. I sent it three times, and she never got it. She sent me text messages that I never got either.

So what's the deal? Verizon and T-Mobile don't play nice together? I've received messages from Catherine in bulk before, like three at once, and we're both Verizon. It's pretty f'd up.

Total switch to Parallels

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 11, 2006, 12:13 AM | comments: 1

I deleted my Boot Camp partition on my MacBook Pro today. Once I started using Parallels for virtualization, there was no point. Now when I need to use Windows I don't have to reboot, I can share files, and I don't have to occupy some part of the hard disk with a partition that's partially unused. Sure, Parallels wasn't free, but it's a much nicer arrangement.

Actually, one of the neatest things is just that I can have a totally ready to go install of Windows XP that I can deploy anytime, make copies of, etc. That's pretty cool.

9/11 conspiracy theories

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 10, 2006, 3:37 PM | comments: 0

With the movie World Trade Center coming out (I do have some opinions on that, for another day), of course all of the conspiracy nuts are jumping around and making noise with some really, really ridiculous theories. I happened to see a link to this Popular Mechanics article that debunks the popular theories. It's a good read...

I'm all for asking questions, but come on... let common sense prevail now and then. Bush might be a moron, but he didn't orchestrate the whole thing.

Music makes it all better

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 10, 2006, 12:23 PM | comments: 0

Every once in awhile, when something is pissing me off, or I generally feel indifferent about stuff, I realize that music makes it all better.

Last night, Catherine and I were chilling out on the bed with the breeze blowing through the room, and something made me think of some music. I was able to call it up on my iPod (with the Altec Lansing speakers) almost instantly. Then I started surfing around it and found other things that I really love that I haven't heard in ages. And people say having 5,000 songs at your disposal is ridiculous.

It's kind of inspiring to hear some of this stuff, and even newer things that I've purchased recently. It makes me want to do something radical that I shouldn't even.

The sort of worst fucking day

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 8, 2006, 2:42 PM | comments: 14

I'm having one of those days. I feel like the world is full of people who exist solely for the purpose of pissing me off and/or annoying me.

I got a call this morning from the bank today because I didn't get around to seeing them over the weekend to write them a check for the money that they suddenly decided they wanted to pay Stephanie directly. They figured this out one day before closing. Keep in mind that the refinancing contract doesn't say a thing about this. In fact, the only thing they legally needed to worry about was that Steph filed a quit-claim on the house, and that's it. As she put it (witty as usual), I can blow that money on crack if I so desire, so long as I cut her a check within four months. Of course, this means I need to cut them a check for the shortfall first in the cash-out amount. And if pissing me off wasn't enough, they also want her to write a letter, just one sentence indicating that she accepts the money from me, and it has to be notorized! Nevermind that they have our separation agreement, which we both signed, as well as a lawyer, a paralegal, the judge and the clerk of courts indicating we're all cool with it. Can you believe that?

All jacked up on that phone call, I left work and sought the comfort of a big warm Chipotle burrito. There's one person in line, and it's some little woman who can't see over the counter, on the phone trying to describe what she might want. The guy behind the counter is just shaking his head. People are stacking behind me. She's totally oblivious to her surroundings.

I thought about going to Geauga Lake and blowing off some steam on coasters, but I figured I'd encounter another little burrito girl who was going to annoy me. So instead I retreated to the park. So what happens there? Some woman pulls up next to me, in an otherwise empty lot, where she leaves her car running, windows up (it's 72 degrees), for half an hour while she applies makeup. I don't know if her rudeness bothered me more than her complete disregard for the environment and oil consumption, but I felt like I had to give up on human beings at that point.

I'm a social person, and I value close friendships. But these kinds of days make me want to lock myself in my house and never come out. And when I look back at this string of events, they're not even a big deal! No one is personally fucking with me, it's just that their actions annoy me. Why can't I let that go?

I know that I shouldn't let stuff outside of my control, particularly stuff that doesn't have severe and direct impact on me, get me all worked up. Of course, the fact that it does leads to more self-loathing and it starts to get into this endless loop. I know it's stupid, but I guess it's the symptom of being a passionate person. I need to balance some of that passion with a healthy dose of reason. I think reason is all that can keep you grounded in an unreasonable world.

And you thought Vista was looking like a colossal failure before

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 8, 2006, 2:00 AM | comments: 6

I'm sure I'll be accused of drinking the Apple Kool-Aid (or is it Apple juice?), but I have to say that Microsoft is so ridiculously far behind in making a meaningful gee-whiz operating system that it weighs heavy on me. The company that has brought to me amazing development tools and a superior Web platform has utterly embarrassed me on the OS front.

Apple showed off some of the new features in Leopard, the next OS X version, at their developer conference today. Can you believe this Time Machine application? It represents everything that's wrong with Vista. Time Machine was clearly thought of by coming up with a user interface that normal people would understand, and then the technical details were figured out. Where is the new file system and related tech in Vista?

And Steve Jobs demonstrated part of the reason that OS X has evolved so well: Iterative development. Five versions in five years, and people actually pay for the upgrades! Would people have upgraded Windows XP in this fashion? I doubt it, but making those incremental steps sure would have made a lot of sense to me.

It's hard for me to admit as a Windows developer, but every day I become more of a "Mac person" as I run Visual Studio in Parallels and do my day-to-day computing in OS X. With those amazing new Mac Pro machines, I can see getting one of those and being even less Windows oriented.

Microsoft has really blown it.

Catherine's triathlon

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 7, 2006, 9:33 PM | comments: 0

Yesterday morning, around 10 a.m., Catherine finished her first triathlon.

Keep in mind that her time is actually about 22 minutes less, as the clock started with the first group (the uber-men).

She has come a long way to reach this goal. Way back in her college days, she weighed well over 200 pounds. Along with taking off all of that weight, she's also has changed her lifestyle to include more exercise. That's a pretty amazing transformation.

What's perhaps most inspirational is that she's able to decide to do something, and follow it through to completion. There was never any real question in my mind that she'd be able to do the triathlon. She started training a few months ago, learned to swim and run efficiently, got some mediocre cycling tips from me, and just flat out decided she was going to do it. She was far from being last too, but that's what I expected when she entered the water last but came out in the middle of her group.

Makes you kind of wonder what you're capable of!

Mac Pro

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 7, 2006, 3:54 PM | comments: 4

Being all over the logic-creative continuum

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 7, 2006, 2:47 PM | comments: 0

I had an important realization in my counseling session today. I've had this idea that there is this barrier between being logical and being creative, and that the two often can't coexist. Verlin says that I'm rare in that I am strong at both ends of this continuum, and that the idea you're one or the other comes from the majority of people who are one or the other.

Life and our culture tend to split the two, so it's hard for people like me to really find that balance where I can do both. Work is largely logic driven, since I write code for a living. That's one of the things that makes it hard for me to go to a structured day job.

You'd think that would be obvious to me, since I'm always saying how there is very little in life that's black and white, and I used to talk about balance all of the time when I wrote about life. Of course it's easy for me to mentor and advise other people, but quite another thing for me to take my own advice!

Review: Cirque du Soleil Delirium

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 7, 2006, 1:59 PM | comments: 3

I was watching the news Thursday night when they showed a segment about the load-in for the show. I spontaneously decided that I wanted to see what all the fuss was about these shows.

The stage went the entire length of the arena, and the seating on the sides of the arena were closed off. There were about a dozen rows on the floor on either side, but thinking about the width of the performance space, I thought it would be better to be up a bit in the lower bowl. I was right.

The opening act was Nitza, who used members of the band from the show in her own performance. It's hard to describe what she's all about because she incorporates so many different ethnic musical styles.

Delirium is a combination of music, singing, dancing and freakshow acrobatics. The show's main character is a guy who floats around on a balloon most of the show, sometimes seeking refuge within it. The music touches on a lot of themes that involve life, death, aging, isolation, love, etc. There's also this guy that frequently shows up with this red ball and offers it to the balloon guy, though through most of the show he's apprehensive about taking it. At one point, a really angry guy that does a lot of shouting also takes the ball and puts it in a cage that is lifted into the rigging.

The ball seemed to represent some combination of consciousness, love, hope and generally positive things about life. The turning point in the show was when the balloon guy finally took the ball, and started seeing all of the things around him. They don't really spell out this theme, but it's what I got out of it, and I found it very moving. Indeed, sometimes all you need to do is take hold of the consciousness around you and live in the moment.

The show was not the typical collection of acrobatics that are apparently a key element of their stage and tent shows. In fact, the music is a "best of" from their other shows, in some cases with lyrics added. That's kind of appropriate for an arena show I suppose, as it certainly had an ultimate rock concert feel to it.

The dancers were pretty amazing. This one guy looked like he was sculpted into perfection as if he were made of clay. This tall woman, like 6'6", was ridiculously nimble for her size.

There was a violinist that blew me away. She performed with Nitza as well. One of the singers, a young blonde woman, had serious pipes. There was just so much talent on stage at any given moment.

Overall, it was an amazing show. I'd see it again in a heartbeat.

Cirque du Soleil: Delirium

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 5, 2006, 2:53 PM | comments: 3


posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 5, 2006, 1:10 PM | comments: 1

Kicking the sky

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 4, 2006, 9:42 PM | comments: 0

Famous Michelle and Famous Catherine

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 4, 2006, 9:02 PM | comments: 0

The Net community is crazy

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 4, 2006, 4:57 PM | comments: 0

For all of my fascination with the success of some businesses on the Web, I don't have to look any further than my own sites to see how crazy people are.

A dude IM'd me today asking me if we bought some Cedar Point photo site to augment the photos we have on PointBuzz. Now, assuming for a moment that we actually were running some cash-rich Web site, why the hell would we do that when we can go to the park any day ourselves?

The dude was like, "Well, I just heard that rumor." That implies that people sit around and discuss such things in the first place. Are you kidding me?

It never ceases to amaze me the things that people take interest in.

I Digg the Kevin Rose story

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 4, 2006, 11:32 AM | comments: 0

I've said this before, but I'm really enamored with the whole Digg and Kevin Rose story. Business Week is obviously into it too, as it's their cover story.

I think back to the good old TechTV days and "The Screen Savers." That was good TV, and I really miss that. To this day, I'm not exactly sure what it was about the people involved with that show, other than the fact that they were clearly for real, they were geeky and they loved technology. I think it's great that so many people from that network continue to do interesting things.

Kevin's story is most interesting to me because he left the "safety" of a job at G4 after it started sucking, and decided to do his own thing. He took the risk. He had an idea, and he just did it. He's still doing it, and since he's still living with roommates, I'm thinking he's continuing to focus on the product, and not the fame and fortune. If he sticks with it, the rewards will come, no doubt.

I feel a little jealous of course, because I've always had similar ideas to his in the eight years I've been running online communities, but I've never had the balls or focus to go after them. I've made a little money doing my thing, but my stuff is too audience focused. I wish I would've chased something bigger.

Still, it's inspirational, and I think there is potential out there to do neat things.

It's official: I'm an Apple dork

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 4, 2006, 11:00 AM | comments: 4

Monday Apple is expected to announce new stuff at their developer's conference. I have to admit that Steve Jobs does great keynotes and product announcements. I watched the one where they did the Intel-based iMacs from start to finish.

Hopefully the big announcement is going to include an Intel-based replacement for the PowerMacs, and the going theory is that they'll use the new Core 2 Duo chips. Those CPU's are burying anything else out there right now. That's exciting to me because my desktop is two years old, getting slow, and it's not a Mac. ;)

So I guess I'm drinking the Kool-Aid!

The end really is at hand

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 4, 2006, 10:49 AM | comments: 1

Pat Robertson actually believes that global warming is real and that we should reduce the use of fossil fuels. I'm shocked.

I don't think the heat wave can be directly attributed to global warming, but the frequency of extreme weather could be indicative of the rapid change that some scientists suggest is possible. It has happened before.

Easy swap with Apple

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 3, 2006, 6:43 PM | comments: 0

Apple said Monday that they're not happy with the performance in a series of MacBook Pro batteries, and that they'd replace them for free. Mine was among those affected, and while I've not had any issues, I filled out the form on their site for a new one. Today it came, I put the old one back in the box, and will drop it in the Airborne box.

I like that they're so proactive and I didn't have to do anything.

Glorious quiet solitude

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 3, 2006, 12:42 PM | comments: 4

Jailing journalists and/or bloggers is bad news

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 2, 2006, 12:20 PM | comments: 2

Refusing to offer testimony in a criminal investigation, citing his right to protect sources, blogger Josh Wolf was tossed in jail by a judge for contempt of court, and could spend a year there. That's disturbing.

For all of the crap that goes on with our government, our saving grace is that people can watch to make sure naughty things aren't going on. When you do something like this, you create a chilling effect, and when you create a chilling effect, the government can get away with stuff that is not in our best interest as a free nation. It's a slippery slope.

It'd be nice if the ACLU actually did something useful for a change and helped this guy out.