Archive: April, 2008

Mmmmmm Melt

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 10:27 PM | comments: 9

Twitter and more disconnection

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 2:04 PM | comments: 5

It's weird how bloggers, gossip types and "Web 2.0" company founders and execs have developed into this strange pseudo-celebrity sphere, where many of them are constantly stroking each other. What's unfortunate about it is that the podcasts, blogs and other media I've consumed from the tech world are becoming hopelessly out of touch.

I know I've previously blogged about this with regards to Leo Laporte and the This Week in Tech gang's comments about how "nobody uses .NET," but reverse awareness is also getting out of hand. This post from Scoble is one of countless about Twitter, and it's hopelessly out of touch. The comments on the post seem to concur. Twitter has become something of a flagship for attention whoring, especially in that pseudo-celebrity community. Seriously, I'm so tired of hearing about it, about how great it is and it's changing the world.

I'm not generally one to be a poopy pants about new technology, but I agree with the comments about how this thing is a niche feature for something else, not a business. VC's keep sinking money into it, and for what? It feels like 2000 all over again.

And it wouldn't be so damn annoying if it weren't for the constant, "This is our attention whoring party and we're so awesome," kinds of posts and comments. Seriously, take it to your average high school, and they'll be like, "Yeah, I can send text messages, what do I need this for?" Even kids who live for attention don't see the value in this.

The pseudo-celebrities are living unbalanced lives, as far as I'm concerned, which probably contributes to their lack of perspective on Twitter's true impact. I don't think it's an over-generalization to say that most people outside the valley don't feel any need to share when they take a dump to their followers, or know when the followers are taking a dump. There are so many more important things going on at all times, and this constant connection noise is, in my opinion, a waste of time.

Do any of these people turn off the electronic devices and spend time with their kids, pets, a book or a movie or whatever? Is this "knowledge" about what everyone else does really that important?

Mario Kart Wii: What's your friend number

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 9:48 PM | comments: 8

I know several people now have Mario Kart Wii... so what's your friend number? Mine is 0559-7254-0715. Diana's number is 0645-6249-1291, though she hasn't played it yet. :)

Initial impression... gosh it's a lot of fun, if a little strange to get used to. I haven't tried to play with auto-slide on, but I can't imagine it would be helpful. So I'm sticking to it old school, manual.

New single-tank record

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 6:01 PM | comments: 6

Most bloggiest month ever

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 4:39 PM | comments: 0

I've made more entries this month than any other. And this noise makes it even more.

Cyrus photo is definitely not cool

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 4:23 PM | comments: 2

Now I ask you... how could any adult actually feel that the now infamous Miley Cyrus photo is OK? Is it artistic and lovely, if the subject were older? Yes. Is it appropriate that the subject is a 15-year-old? Fuck no. That's not being up tight, that's me thinking like a grown up who should be looking out for a kid. Where is her achy breaky father? How do you let that shit go?

I think Annie Leibovitz is a talented photographer, and it could be argued that she has shot some of the most memorable pop culture photographs of several generations, but come on, use some fucking common sense discretion. Pictures of a 15-year-old girl covered only by a sheet imply sexuality that a kid that age isn't mature enough to handle. Every teenage girl wants to be pretty and noticed, and I'm all for them being expressive, but at some point you start to draw attention from people who shouldn't be interested, and that would scare me as a father.

More to the point, it's manipulating a kid to sell magazines. She's already more product than person, and this takes it to an entirely new level. That's sad.

Sound... in its epic sonic glory

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 12:15 AM | comments: 2

Going way back to my college days, I found this band called James, and they had an album called Seven. On that album was a song called "Sound," and it easily became one of my favorite songs of all time.

Do everything you fear
In this there's power
Fear is not to be afraid of

It really came down to those lyrics. They helped me out in a time where I was unsure of myself, my future, my life. I've always, always been able to go back to that song and feel better about anything that was bothering me.

The band broke up in 2001, apparently, but they put out a live album of their last show. Getting Away with It: Live is that album. This live version of "Sound" is more than eleven minutes of pure sonic glory. The connection with the fans is obvious, and it's just a beautiful thing to hear. It even has additional lyrics that weren't in the studio version.

I actually got to see James live in 1993, playing on Peter Gabriel's WOMAD tour, and while I don't remember much of that show, I do remember that song.

It's 99 cents for the song. You might like it.

Economic stimulus my ass

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 12:05 AM | comments: 5

I thought that the "economic stimulus" checks were all bullshit in the first place, because I suspect people who really need it will be paying bills and not buying shit (therefore not stimulating anything), but now I'm just pissed. Tyler linked to a calculator on the IRS site that indicates I don't get dick because I make too much.

So in other words, you can make more money, pay a higher tax rate, and you get nothing back. What a load of crap. Thank you, Congress and Dubya. Thanks for nothing!

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have anything to complain about financially, and that there are more ways for people who make more to manipulate their taxes and pay a lower effective rate. The truth is that I don't have a problem with higher tax rates for people who make more (even though I find it strange that, according to a recent article in Forbes, something like 90% of the federal budget is funded by 10% of the population, though that certainly validates the shrinking middle class). My issue is that if you're going to give breaks, you sure as hell should give breaks to everyone.

Whatever, my bigger issue is that this isn't something the government can afford in the first place.

Hello Nasty

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 28, 2008, 10:40 PM | comments: 0

I'd just like to take a moment to remind everyone that Hello Nasty is perhaps one of the best albums ever made. Listen to it before you dismiss.


New Portishead

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 28, 2008, 1:33 PM | comments: 2

Yeah... it's dark and fucked up, but it's precisely the kind of music I tend to like when I'm at my happiest.

Making something of the weekend

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 28, 2008, 12:34 PM | comments: 3

I was seriously stir crazy at various points this weekend. Saturday morning, we got up (a little late ;)) to sunny skies. Diana had to run to her house and do a dentist appointment. I went to Home Depot for an LP gas cylinder swap and some weed-n-feed, then to the grocery store for liquids.

By the time we were both home, I was bored out of my skull. I mean, annoyed even. I suggested we go mini-golf, so that's what we did.

Went to Rinky Dink in Medina, and it sucked. I haven't been there in about two years, but wow has the place gone down hill. The greens are in disrepair and full of dirt, and the surfaces have warped so that they're not at all flat. When the surface negates whatever skill you might have (or think you have), it's not as fun. I was seriously disappointed. But whatever, we got outside for a little while, and that was a good thing.

Next we went to Outback so I could have cheese fries. I wonder what the hell I was thinking, but at the time they were super yummy and I love the way they season stuff there. Naturally I had chicken and not steak.

From there we stopped at Jared for a little more ring shopping, and BBB for a small mirror. We listened to R.E.M. in the car and retired to the breezy interior of the house after dusk. We engaged in more romantic activities, lots of wine and hot tubbing.

Sunday was a little more task oriented, but I wasn't content to sit around at first. That's when I went to see Baby Mama (I liked it!). Diana had a number of goals, including some garden prep, while I wanted to at least get my head around the redesign for private messages in the forum app. We managed to finish out Eli Stone from the DVR as well... what a great show. I hope it makes the cut for a second season.

Overall though, I have to say that I felt accomplished in just living it up. We did a lot of stuff when I could have easily just sat around sleeping and doing nothing. I feel like we've turned the corner to spring and summer, despite the cold wet crap right now.

Solo out

posted by Jeff | Sunday, April 27, 2008, 1:00 PM | comments: 2

One of the things I never anticipated going into this relationship was our ability to be together and yet do our own thing. I'm seeing a movie solo, because Diana didn't want to, and we're both OK with that. Yet another thing I now believe is key to a solid relationship.

I love my little redhead!

Dark hair

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 25, 2008, 5:08 PM | comments: 0

I got my hair cut Tuesday. I've been seeing Darcy now for 15 years. Fifteen years! She's responsible for my pro-volleyball inspired hair cut of the 90's you're all quite fond of from my '94 fair video.

Yeah, it's a lot thinner than it used to be, which is a symptom of being 30-something I suppose. It annoys me, but I also know there's little I can do about it. The really strange thing is that I stopped coloring it awhile ago, and after this cut it's now, probably for the first time in ten years, totally the natural color. Only with a few grays hanging out here and there. It's strange.

Of course, the last couple of colorings failed too. I don't know if it's a change in formula or a change in my hair, but the last few times it came out looking more red than blond, at least until it was exposed to some sun and much washing.

I'm glad I did have longer hair for awhile though, especially while it wasn't popular to do so. Now the kids are doing it so they can look like they're from the O.C. (while the girls have the long straight hair and sweepy bangs). Fight the power.

New R.E.M. album pretty decent

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 25, 2008, 2:39 PM | comments: 0

I've never been a terribly hardcore R.E.M. fan, but my roommate in college turned me on to some of the older stuff, and I really got into Life's Rich Pageant, which came out when I was like 13 or something.

The last album I bought though was Monster, which I think came out in '94. Between the meltdown of good radio and demise of MTV, that certainly caused an exposure problem for them, but I'm not sure any of those records jumped out at me anyway.

But I picked up Accelerate on the Amazon MP3 store and I'm digging it. Most of it doesn't really grab you at first, but after a few listens it's pretty good. The tracks that did jump out at me from the previews were "Until The Day Is Done," which is I think a commentary on the war or perhaps the general disenchantment a lot of people have with the country. "Mr. Richards" is also very good, and I think it's an indictment of criminal CEO's or politicians or George Bush. I'm not sure, but I like the song.

On the radar, and crossing my fingers for coolness... Portishead's Third and a new record from Armin van Buuren.

No recent Apple lust

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 25, 2008, 2:16 PM | comments: 3

I stopped in the Apple Store at lunch today. There aren't any things there that I think, "Gosh, I'd sure like to have that." Is Apple slipping in feeding the technology addiction? Not if you read their quarterly results!

After seeing future-bro-in-law's 17" MacBook Pro, I do admit that I kind of would like to have one. But I'd prefer to get three good years out of my 15", and I'm already two-thirds of the way there. It has been a great laptop, not counting the weird random shut-off thing it did for a couple of weeks. The battery health is starting to dwindle after ~250 or so charge cycles, but I'm still getting two hours per charge.

The hot rumor is that the iPhone will be re-released with support for 3G networking soon, which certainly has some appeal. I'm just not sure it's $500 appeal. The only thing I really wish it did that it does not currently is some "real" calendaring functionality.

Hottest woman... until you realize...

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 25, 2008, 2:08 PM | comments: 1

FHM says that Megan Fox, the hottie from Transformers, is the hottest woman in the planet. I wouldn't go that far, but maybe it's because she's banging Brian Austin Green (yeah, the poseur from 90210) and has his name tattooed near her va-jay-jay. Eeeew. Although look at the bright side... getting a tattoo of someone's name is almost certain to cause it to fail. Ask Angelina.

A nice surprise in the mail!

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 25, 2008, 1:20 AM | comments: 2

I was very excited to open the mail box today and find an envelope with a big fat ad insertion order in it. The timing couldn't be better, and I was relieved because I was starting to worry it wasn't going to happen.

Props to my persistent sales person!

Arby's Wendy's

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 24, 2008, 4:02 PM | comments: 11

Arby's parent company bought Wendy's. The family is devastated.

Bright sunny skies and a forecast for Armageddon

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 24, 2008, 3:22 PM | comments: 0

The nice weather is intoxicating. Seriously, I'm amazed at how good I feel lately, and how optimistic I am about most things.

While this translates into a sunny disposition for me, there's gloom in aspects of my life that seemingly coexist. I guess in the big picture they're not things that are going to bring me down, but they're there enough to the extent that I do care about them.

So here I am, all giddy and energized, yet annoyed with certain things, at the same time. It's like the universe could explode at any moment from this great paradox!

Digg does Groove Is In The Heart

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 24, 2008, 12:05 AM | comments: 0

I've been known to appear on video tape, drunk, lip syncing to this, but this is a very clever video... and in one take!

Buzz impact

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 10:59 PM | comments: 8

You know, I'm starting to realize that there's some real potential again in my Web sites. I admit, I've been pretty down on them over the last year or so. That was partly waning interest, partly burn out and partly an ad market that has sucked.

I've mentioned before how the thing I used to love about CoasterBuzz is all of the park-specific sites used to do their thing and submit news. They'd all get nice little traffic bumps from it. I see that this is still the case with a substantial spike on PointBuzz after posting a news item on CoasterBuzz. That's kind of neat. Unfortunately, the only other sites who do anything anymore are the Kings Island kids and Richard's from time to time.

So there's clearly a lot of mileage left in CoasterBuzz. I think perhaps it's time to think a little harder though about what its real purpose in life is. News and community yes, particularly as the foundation for a club, but beyond that I've gotta figure it out.

Why do UPS's suck these days?

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 6:55 PM | comments: 9

The first UPS I ever bought was in 2001 when I was hosting my Web sites from home. That way if the power went out, no problem, sites stayed online. Indeed the following spring, I had a blackout that lasted an hour and the UPS held up no problem.

But since then I've had three of them, and at least two I can tell you are crap. One I've thrown away, and the other one, about nine months old, is supposed to power my Mac Pro. Well, the power just went out, and it lasted all of five fucking minutes. That's not the 30 minutes it promised. I'm particularly annoyed because a backup to S3, in the amount of 13 gigs, got interrupted, and since I don't have the super fantastic version of JungleDisk, that means it failed.

The other UPS that I have no opinion on powers my router and cable modem, and I have no idea how long it will last. It's almost three years old.

Photo phrenzy

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 4:10 PM | comments: 0

Gonch upgraded his camera and is buying a big lens (hopefully he'll cap the damn thing in his bag from now on!). He said he can't justify my more expensive stuff, and Tyler says I'm over-compensating.

I'll always say firmly that people take great photos, not cameras, but dammit if having better gear doesn't make it a whole lot easier. I've been slowly migrating my photos over to Aperture (love it!) while backing them all up to S3. In the process, I've looked very hard at stuff from the 5D and before. Here are some random observations...

First off, I know there have been countless debates on dpReview regarding the image sensor size, full-frame vs. cropped, but I don't get that at all. I mean, there are some cropped sensor owners who swear by it with statements like, "I can get even closer because of the field crop!" Yeah, you can with a full-frame too... it's called cropping in Photoshop. I hate to think that I'm not getting everything the glass can see. The lenses made specifically for those cameras is an obvious solution, but because it's considered "prosumer" they don't have the really high quality lenses.

I don't care about that debate, but I'd never want to go back either. Being able to go a full 24mm and see it all is breathtaking, as I discovered in Washington. It also makes my long zoom, which starts at 70mm, more practical. I don't have to rip it off in situations where on my old camera 70mm became 112mm, and I was "too close" to what I wanted to shoot.

Noise is better handled on a big sensor as you'd expect, just as a function of surface area. Shooting at 1600 ISO is now something that's perfectly acceptable to me, and even 800 is pretty amazing. I like a little noise though, because it reminds me of using black and white T-MAX 400.

I've got a tendency to shoot aperture priority, wide open, because I like short depth of field. The reality is that it's a pain in the ass with people who are moving. The joy of shooting with the 50mm f/1.4 is the curse of moving people. Sometimes it's just not practical, or you need to snap off a half-dozen shots to get eyes in focus. But wow, when you nail it, it's amazing. Even shooting someone standing five to ten feet from you, that depth can be remarkably narrow.

The IS on my 24-105mm f/4 L is like magic. You can freehand shoot at 1/10 a second when the zoom is wide open, and easily 1/30 when zoomed in. That's pretty cool as long as what you're shooting isn't moving.

Even the 5D isn't great at white balance. I find you have to tweak the color temperature quite a bit when you're in goofy low light situations. That's not a huge deal when you can apply tweaks to ranges of images in Aperture, but you'd think that it'd be a solved problem by now.

Overall though, I find myself looking for excuses to shoot. I'm really into it again.

And the 5D is paid-off, by the way. :)

Amusement attraction different, not less

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 3:12 PM | comments: 0

I was talking to a USA Today reporter about the new stuff popping up at amusement parks today, when I realized that there is actually quite a bit going on still these days, just not in the way that we became accustomed to back around the turn of the century.

It's true that the industry is very capital intensive, but it's also not trying to build the "-est" everything the way it used to. Thank God, right?

The only place bucking the trend is Orlando, where they seem to be hell bent on building new coasters and new themed areas, dark rides, etc. That's the part I get excited about because they tend to deliver some pretty amazing experiences.

A burst of forum productivity

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 9:29 PM | comments: 0

Man, I don't know what has gotten into me. I just started blasting through my list of things to fix/add for the forum app. I got HTML e-mail set up in almost no time, in part because I wrote the e-mail stuff right the first time. I got the last pieces of the refactoring in for the rich text stuff so that it properly uses the AJAX framework. Now I'm starting to refactor the private messaging stuff, because it sucks. Surprisingly, I think I can even do it without data changes. It just depends on how long I can keep my head down and go at it.

I think a lot of this comes out of the fact that I feel confident that I do in fact no what I'm doing. Sometimes I forget that I wrote a book and know this stuff pretty well. I've been working on a project at work that shows I can be a ninja in certain areas as well. And then there's the fact that, yes, I'm starting to regain a certain desire for my sites again, and it's time to get my shit together and update them. Not to mention there's a third site that frankly we should already be moving on.

Cool evenings with the windows open don't hurt either.

A dark anniversary

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 5:21 PM | comments: 0

Saturday will be the three year anniversary of one of the worst days of my life, when Stephanie and I split. I can't even put into words how much that sucked.

It's amazing that you can endure something so horrible and in the long run be able to accept it, process it, and even realize that it really was a good thing. The hardest thing is that at the time of something horrible, especially a major relationship event, you can't possibly see clearly enough to realize it is the right thing. The sadness, panic and fear are too overwhelming. If someone could have predicted my 2008 reality on that day, I would have told them it was impossible.

But here I am three years later, with a couple of decent relationships under my belt, and one that hopefully is the last one I ever need to worry about. The change in my life has been extraordinary, and the decisions were mostly mine. The break up was frankly a catalyst for a great many things that I decided to do.

I'm thankful for the way things turned out, and I wouldn't trade any of it. Stephanie and I had a good run, and many, many good years together. I'm happy she's able to live independently and with a view of the mountains (OK, I'm jealous of that part). I don't hold any bitterness or resentment. I've had one amazing experience after another since that time, and I anticipate many more.

It's hard not to think of the way I felt that day, but I can't ignore how much I've lived in the last three years, and the joy that has come with that time.

Database dog

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 11:24 AM | comments: 0

While I don't care much about knitting the way that Diana does, I'm fascinated by the growth of The developer keeps a blog for technical nonsense, and he just posted an update about his new database server. I love the Boston Terrier sitting on top of it...

Happy Earth Day

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 11:02 AM | comments: 3

Now hug a fucking tree!

Silly credit card companies

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 21, 2008, 11:59 PM | comments: 7

I've got sweet credit. Strangely enough, it isn't because I've been a totally responsible borrower, because I haven't, but because I've reliably paid on everything I've ever borrowed without issue. So after a really long 0% period on my Chase business card, where I was carrying a balance for a long time, they finally upped it back to the "normal" rate of 15.9%. Yeah right.

I once had about $12k on that card, and the limit is something absurd like $31k. So while I only use it at this point for monthly expenses (hosting, phone, minor hardware stuff, etc.), I do every once in awhile intend to float a couple hundred bucks on it. But not at that rate.

So I called them and said this sucks, and you need to make it lower. They dropped it 1%. Not good enough. I was like, "Look, I have great credit, as evidenced by the absurd high limit you gave me, so if you want me to continue using it, you need to do better." But they didn't.

That meant the pain in the ass to change over the various things that automatically get billed to it, using my Citi card instead. Citi has always treated me remarkably well with high limits and low rates, and when I bitch and moan, they'll drop my rate lower. I think for my biz card and personal card, it's under 12%. That actually encourages people with good credit and fast pay off to actually use the thing. At the very least, they get a cut of the discount rate that vendors have to pay, so that's a win for them. Chase apparently doesn't get that.


posted by Jeff | Monday, April 21, 2008, 12:26 AM | comments: 2

I noticed that Diana says "fuck" a lot more than she used to. I remember when we first met I was cautious about using it around her, because I know not everyone is comfortable with its frequent use. (Fuck them, right? ;)) But over time, I know I use it a lot more around her, and frankly for me it just helps me blow off steam. But it's funny to hear it come out of her mouth, I guess because she's too cute to use such naughty words.

Diana suggests that she causes me to slack. However, I've always been pretty good at just doing that on my own. Usually when she influences me, it's for the better. Like she talked me into getting my lazy ass out to spread fertilizer this morning. That was a big win.

People affect people in all kinds of ways. I guess the hardest thing to do is realize when someone affects you in a negative way, or thank them when it's in a positive way.

More deprogramming required

posted by Jeff | Saturday, April 19, 2008, 9:58 PM | comments: 0

I've had a number of dreams where I was with "formers" and going out of their way to make sure they were content or happy or whatever. This, as the dreams would imply, is something I felt I had to do, and I often felt bad if I wasn't quite doing whatever it was I "should" have. I have somewhat of a provider streak, you know?

I think the reason for this personality disorder surfacing is that obviously Diana and I are getting more serious and I want to make sure that I'm getting it right and providing. But the thing is, I don't really need to be that guy for her. She's ridiculously independent, and she doesn't need me to be happy (even if I make her happier).

Today some of those feelings surfaced while awake. We went over to her house to do a little painting. First, I felt bad, as if I were ripping her out of her house to live with me. That's pretty silly. Then she was painting, and I was being a whiny bitch because my back hurts when reaching and bending around, so I felt I wasn't providing again.

She assures me these things are not problems, but I think I need some time to deprogram. This is a crappy side effect of newer serious relationships, that you tend to somewhat base "normal operation" on what your previous experience is. Granted, my previous experiences were far from nightmares, but there's enough baggage there to undo.

I suppose that, as is the case with any flaws, awareness is half the battle.

The cake is a lie!

posted by Jeff | Saturday, April 19, 2008, 11:52 AM | comments: 0

Revisiting Juno

posted by Jeff | Saturday, April 19, 2008, 12:09 AM | comments: 0

As you may recall, I was quite infatuated with Juno when I first saw it in the theaters. My initial reasons were in part because a virtual nobody (at the time) wrote it, it had great dialogue not written by Tarantino and, above all, it was the first movie I had seen in a very long time that I emotionally responded to without making me feel cheap. I can say that the movie does make my top five of all time, and that's a really special place to be.

I've noticed there's a lot of hate on the Internet over the movie, mostly from asinine self-appointed morality police (ironic seeing as how the lead chooses not to have an abortion, but whatever). What gets me is more the movie "buffs" who live in their parents basement complaining the movie is too over the top or not realistic or whatever.

For the sake of argument, why are people completely willing to suspend disbelief for science fiction, ultra-violence or, my favorite, movies where some dork gets to nail cheerleaders. Like any of those are realistic?

But forget all that, because I think there's a level of realness in the movie that is unmatched in most of the shit passed off as drama from Hollywood. Kids actually are witty and funny and hilarious. I know I was. And after years of coaching teenage girls, I can tell you with great confidence that they're some of the funniest fucking people I've ever known. Yes, they talk about dumb teenage shit, but it floors me how witty they can be.

One of the things I find hardest to think about when it comes to screenplays is having the right flow and devices in place to advance the story the "right" way. It's the thing my first screenplay lacked. In Juno, for example, there are three distinct stages to the opinions you have about Vanessa (Jennifer Garner's character). At first you hate her for being a crazy type-A freak, then you appreciate her need to be the most noble of things, and finally you see how genuine and warm she really is. To have a script and performance that can draw you in like that is top notch. It's my coming of age story obsession wrapped up into a shorter time frame.

But like I said, the bigger thing is that you just really sympathize with and love the characters. I mean, there aren't any to dislike at all. That's unusual.

Top. Five.

iJustine: WTF?

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 18, 2008, 2:19 PM | comments: 3

Accuweather vs. TWC

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 17, 2008, 11:53 PM | comments: 4

I tend to go to for the long range forecast, ten days and all. The OS X widget that ships with the OS appears to ping Accuweather. Its cousin on the iPhone goes to TWC. The two are frequently in conflict, and I'm not sure who to believe.

I'm going with Accuweather for now, because the optimist in me wants to believe there won't be any rain this weekend. :)

My companion cube has arrived!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 17, 2008, 6:33 PM | comments: 3

One ring to rule them all

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 17, 2008, 2:22 PM | comments: 0

I had lunch today with a coworker who got divorced at about the same time as me, and we were talking (ambiguously, of course) about the forward motion that Diana and I have. My friend has had a harder time getting back into the game, in part because she had a crappy situation that took her longer to get over.

In any case, she seems to be really receptive now to dating, but has already had some less than ideal encounters. She has a lot of doubt about marriage as an institution, and finding someone seems improbably to her. I told her about how Diana and I met on eHarmony and all of that, and I made the assertion that frankly she just isn't meeting enough people to write herself or dating off.

That in turn led to a discussion about "the one." I decided a long time ago that "the one" is actually more like "the one million" because, and maybe I'm an optimist, there are plenty of people out there who are right for you, and if you meet enough people, you'll find one of them. That doesn't make the person you end up with any less special, which I think might be her hang up about the concept, but with billions of people on the planet, how could you possibly believe that there is only one person right for you? The odds of meeting that one person are almost impossible. I don't mean to turn romance into a statistical thesis, but come on!

Ultimately, I think the likelihood of finding someone you can jive with is more tied to your own openness to it. You have to believe in your own worth and respect it. You have to be honest with yourself and with your potential suitors. That means you don't filter what you think and feel, to you or them. I honestly think that's the fundamental you need to have in place to be in a truly successful relationship.

Of course, I'm largely basing this on my own experience, so it's probably not fair to assume some universal truths. Still, I suppose I've seen and experienced enough of what you shouldn't do to have a strong opinion about it!

Film at 11 (and 12, 1, 2...)

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 17, 2008, 10:44 AM | comments: 0

I noticed when we went out Monday that there are a mess of movies coming out soon that I'm pretty excited to see. There's something exciting about going to see movies in the spring and early summer, and that last three years in particular I did it a lot. Say what you will about the expense, I still prefer to see a movie in a theater (unless it's filled with crying children).

This summer is all about Indy, by the way.

Hopefully all of this movie excitement will actually get me to commit to shooting a script. I've got a bunch of notes that I peck into my iPhone now and then, and I really need to translate that into something shootable. My HD camera is gathering dust.

Getting dirty and working with your hands

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 17, 2008, 1:07 AM | comments: 3

I got the hot tub cleaned up in pretty good time right after work, and I'm satisfied with the results. I probably should've let the cleaner stuff dry (water was a little filmy when I started to fill), but whatever.

It felt good to do something a little physical, even if it was brief. I hate exercise for the sake of exercise, and I'm not sure I'll ever overcome that. But when I engage in physical activity for a purpose, that's cool.

Staying in the physical world, I tore down the remainder of the CoasterDynamix model that I built more than three years ago. With the new floorless train, I'm going to try and build a nifty compact model and take it to work. This kind of thing is also very satisfying because you're making something with your hands. I see why Tyler likes to build stuff out of wood, why Diana likes to knit, etc. There's something very real about making stuff with your hands.

My new floorless train

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 6:43 PM | comments: 1

I'm not nearly as jaded as I thought

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 4:16 PM | comments: 5

I think one of the things that I worry about in terms of my own personality is that I've become jaded, or that I've lost the idealism I had when I was in college. As is often the case, a little perspective corrects me.

Given my previous post about work hours, I was interested to keep following the comments on that post I referenced from 37signals. That's when I came across this in the comments...

Further, the notions that we can: ‘find freedom’, ‘exercise ownership .. of happiness’, and ‘choose interactions’ is again, the me-generation, post-modern illusion. Here’s why: it again espouses the belief that each of us can sit on our own mountaintops, controlling our happiness (exercising ownership), being free, etc.

This freedom doesn’t exist - people have tried to live this way before (the Romans and British come to mind) - and it isn’t freedom. It’s about higher degrees of choice making based on false visions of self-fulfillment and enlightenment. It’s the same lunacy that means that when you’ve reached the apex, feeling it’s not enough, you then have to learn about Kaballah in order to “really” find freedom.


How horrible is that? That doesn't sound like someone who is wise, it sounds like someone who has been so beaten into the ground and is jaded that there's no hope.

American culture, among other things, seems to indicate that looking out for your own happiness is selfish and wrong. I don't get that, especially as it relates to work and being a functioning part of society. You've got all kinds of people saying that there's this awful "me generation" or some such nonsense, in a country that is still the richest in the world yet takes the least amount of vacation of any industrialized nation.

My grandfather worked for the same place for more than 30 years and retired. That was how it was done, and he's enjoying a comfortable retirement. My parents have had many jobs, career changes and no allegiance to them on the part of their employers.

Now in my generation, we have a rapidly evolving economy with new industries that didn't even exist ten years ago. Things like "green tech" will spawn countless new industries in another ten years. Everything has changed when it comes to how we fit into The System. What some see as selfishness to me is self preservation, and the avoidance of crap our parents had to deal with.

I firmly believe that the manifestation of this is a strong desire to do something we can really believe in. Unfortunately, the focus seems to be on kids graduating from college expecting things to be easy or coddled or whatever, but come on... that's not a majority, and it's certainly not any different than any generation before us. (As an aside, who can blame those kids when the grown ups were selling them an easy life by way of college all through high school?)

I firmly believe that anything is possible when it comes to finding satisfying work and meaningful connections with others, and doing so requires that you challenge what is perceived as truth. No one has it all figured out, so why would you rely on others who believe they have?

Massive hot tub cleaning failure

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 10:26 PM | comments: 6

When we got back from Seattle, the hot tub definitely didn't smell exactly right. It has been about a week since we had been in it. We had a similar situation after going to Vegas a few weeks before. In other words, long periods of time passed with no shocking and an empty bromine feeder.

Seemingly all at once, the water got cloudy, and I noticed how bad it was yesterday when I saw it in the daylight. So I added the clearing liquid that bonds to the organic particles in the water (which make it cloudy), so they're more easily caught by the filter.

Well, they bonded and clumped alright... all over the sides of the tub and even on the underside of the cover from foam. It's really gross.

I'm annoyed because after a year, I thought I really figured this cleaning and care thing out so I could go a full three months without changing the water. I did it last time, December to February, no problem. This time I only made it two months, and I have no chemicals in reserve for the start-up routine. I guess I'm off to the tub store tomorrow!

Sign of spring

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 6:30 PM | comments: 3

Four day work weeks, balanced life

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 4:43 PM | comments: 13

This is a great post from 37signals on work hours. The comments are just as interesting as the post. There are still a lot of places that would flatly reject any notion of flexible time or shorter work weeks, and that's a bummer.

I suspect I'd be much happier in a four-day week, and in fact I'd even take a pay cut to have it. From the work end, yeah, I'm only productive 25-30 hours at most per week. From the life side, having an extra day a week for me makes me far more likely to clean the house, read, buy groceries or otherwise function in the context of my life in ways I don't currently. I know this from my consulting days, where I never scheduled stuff one day a week, and felt immensely better for it. I lost weight, got my head together and generally felt better despite the difficulty I was having at the time with the separation.

What I find even more unfortunate is all of the people who simply adhere to the way things are with total acceptance. The industrial revolution ended a long time ago. We're not a nation of worker bees on an assembly line, and we become more and more self-aware about what life is supposed to be about. The problem is that the culture is driven by a minority who can't get up to the roof (in the "follow your bliss" Blue Man sense), and we can get stuck working for those people. I've met countless people who do what I do that find it staggering that I don't work 50 hours a week.

My Charmland season pass

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 1:30 PM | comments: 7

New RED camera

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 10:55 AM | comments: 1

Wow, they pushed the envelope again. RED announced a new camera at NAB that does 3k resolution for around $3k before accessories. That is nuts! Provided they put a good lens on it that will do shallow depth of field, they'll have an enormous winner on their hands.

It's crazy that the guy who made Oakley sunglasses just up and started this company to make these cameras, and has done what Sony, Panasonic and JVC haven't been able to despite their enormous engineering resources. It'll be interesting to see how soon this kind of technology trickles down to consumers.

Good morning, deer

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 10:08 AM | comments: 1

21 (the movie sort of about those MIT card counters)

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 1:10 AM | comments: 2

Went to see 21 this evening, despite the critical slam it was given. EW gave it a B, and they tend to be a little more everyman in their reviews, usually to a fault. So I figured what the hell, I'll go for it and hope Diana doesn't hate me for dragging her to a shitty movie. :)

If you're not familiar, the movie is loosely (like barely related) to a book called Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. Basically these kids built a system to count cards and kicked ass at it. Counting cards isn't illegal, but if they can figure out that you're doing it, it's totally in their right to ask you to leave.

In any case, the movie is a sexier version of the story, with Kevin Spacey playing the mastermind professor and Kate Bosworth being, well, I guess just attractive (I doubt she exists in the real life story or the book). She has some great hair looks, the best of which are darker hair (when will actresses learn do-me-blonde is not a good look?). Character development is a little thin, and the editing is very nearly distracting at times, but it's a fun ride. The lead goes through the typical stages of apprehension, excitement, over-indulgence, etc. The ending has some nice twists, even if they are a bit predictable.

What's funny is that they really work up the excess angle of Vegas, the kind of excess most people can't afford. If you can afford it, I doubt you're winning the way they do.

Strongbad coming to Wii and PC

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 14, 2008, 10:36 AM | comments: 1

The traveling couple

posted by Jeff | Sunday, April 13, 2008, 11:35 PM | comments: 12

We put some dates on our calendars finally for some travel plans. We'd like to make Kennywood and Cedar Point's opening days, which are just around the corner. We're also going to make an Orlando trip in June, probably staying a night with my parents seeing as how at this point it's kinda crazy that they've not met Diana.

Late in the year, we're going to spend a week in Orlando for IAAPA and to finally expose Diana to the rat. We've also got a friend doing his birthday in Vegas in December.

The whole part in the middle is still a little up in the air. We want to visit the Jandes family in Chicago, The Dhuse in the Twin Cities, and the wine around San Francisco. It's very possible I will have traveled by air ten times this year, which would certainly be a first since I don't have a job that requires travel. That'll involve some carbon guilt I'm sure.

We've been talking some random destinations as well for next year when we, uh, you know, do our big plans following our other plans in a location we've not yet determined. Diana requires I be vague. Not really, I just like to be vague. That way once it has come and gone, no one is hurt because they didn't know any specifics about how to get there. You'll understand.

So hooray for traveling!

Cleveland depression

posted by Jeff | Sunday, April 13, 2008, 6:18 PM | comments: 2

I'm fairly certain now that I need to get out of Cleveland permanently. I've been a pretty happy guy lately, but as soon as it gets crappy outside, I turn into this shell of a person who doesn't want to do anything but sit around.

Diana and I have zero reason to stay here other than the fact that I have a job that pays well, and selling my house is a potentially shitty thing to try and do right now. There are a couple of houses down the street that I'm going to watch carefully to see if they sell in a reasonable amount of time.

Every year it seems harder to get through the winter, and the high that comes from spring gets more intense every year. That cycle isn't fun. My mom finds life much easier to deal with since moving to Florida, and pretty much everyone I know who has moved out of the Midwest feels the same.

But first thing's first. We need to sell Diana's house. My house needs some work to repair water damage and all of the carpet needs to be replaced. I honestly can't see making a serious go of relocation this year, and that's OK because I don't start to really get tired of it here until January.

At least it's supposed to be sunny the rest of the week.

Elitist? You've gotta be kidding me

posted by Jeff | Sunday, April 13, 2008, 1:45 AM | comments: 0

I was catching up on news tonight and finally watched the video of Obama's allegedly "elitist" rant, according to the Clintons. Are you fucking kidding me? Obama is an elitist? I didn't get that at all from watching the speech. I suppose if you take out enough words and distill it down you might think that, but that's not what I saw.

Obama is not a sound bite kind of guy. He doesn't seem to mind talking about complex things. What a refreshing change. This kind of talk is not media friendly, and I don't think reporters know what to do with it.

I'm really disappointed in Clinton. I mean, pound for pound, her policy isn't all that different from Obama, but in terms of personality and spirit, there's no contest. And frankly, I think Obama would better represent us to fix our broken relationship with pretty much every other country in the world.

More to the point though, if either one of them has a shot, they need to end this now and start focusing on McCain.

Diana and Sherry warm up

posted by Jeff | Saturday, April 12, 2008, 4:30 PM | comments: 1

How cute is Tina Fey?

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 11, 2008, 11:34 PM | comments: 0

Check out her Entertainment Weekly cover.

I think what makes her great is her writing ability (who doesn't love Mean Girls?), but her plain comic delivery and girl-next-door charm makes her even more appealing. More than anything, you gotta love someone who isn't the talentless yet attractive type who gets famous for no good reason.

Nature's approaching fury

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 11, 2008, 11:23 PM | comments: 2

There are a lot of intense things that we encounter in our lives that we grow insensitive to. Violence might be an example, though we mostly see only the fictional variety. Incredible feats of engineering don't surprise us the way they once did either.

But there's one thing that never stops leaving me awestruck: Thunderstorms.

As far back as I can remember (which, for the record, is shortly after birth) thunderstorms have scared me or fascinated me or a little of both. And despite having experienced hundreds of them, they never stop surprising me.

I can remember some pretty intense storms growing up while we were camping in the pop-up camper, my mom freaking out at the potential for us being blown away. Little did we know at the time that there was actually a tornado near by. But just seeing the strength of a downpour, or watching the storm roll over the hills of an Eastern Ohio state park.

I can't even tell you how many times I'd watch a storm roll in from a dorm window the summer I stayed on campus. Having purchased a radio scanner, that was the year I started listening to the amateur radio idiots chase around storms, giving a street by street account of what conditions were happening where.

As a grown up in my house, I've stood on that front step and watched enormous clouds roll in time after time. Remember that video I shot awhile back of the clouds rolling through? I wish I could find that video file. :)

The tornado sirens ran here for about ten to fifteen minutes tonight. Prior to that, I got to see the awesomeness approach. I was sitting in the hot tub, and the half-moon kept peaking through broken clouds directly overhead. There was a lower level of crowds just flying buy, while the higher level moved a little slower. Looking to the west, I could see quite the light show many miles away.

Provided they don't cause damage, I love thunderstorms.


posted by Jeff | Friday, April 11, 2008, 3:58 PM | comments: 7

Windows FAIL

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 11, 2008, 11:51 AM | comments: 4

My sad Halo3 stats

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 11, 2008, 11:11 AM | comments: 0

I didn't realize it, but it turns out that my Halo3 multi-player stats are online. They're not very good. :) I really enjoy playing but I suck at it. I can't believe I haven't played online since November! I did play offline against Joe in Washington though.

Neat stuff though... here's a map that shows where I killed people. Change the drop down and you can see where I was killed.

Eli Stone

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 11, 2008, 12:40 AM | comments: 3

I've said over and over again that I just didn't have room in my life for another TV show, but with 24 out this year, and the writer strike, it turns out I didn't even watch any of the usuals. I mean, there's a new Scrubs tonight, the first one since some time last year.

But something about the promos for Eli Stone looked interesting, I think because the premise reminded me a lot of Wonderfalls, where fates, visions or something would drive him to do the right things and help people. It is definitely those things, but it also brings in issues of mortality and faith. The show gets a little more intense every week.

The show scored some good performers. The guy who does Eli is surprisingly good. Victor Garber assumes the lawyer version of Jack Bristow, a ripe bastard who underneath it all cares about his people. The Asian faux-mystic is absolutely hilarious while giving wisdom. The budding love interest is so adorable but not traditionally hot, and you want them to hook up.

Here's hoping this one sticks around for at least another season.

Amazon gives me fiddy bucks for the HD-DVD mistake

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 10, 2008, 4:55 PM | comments: 0

Yeah, I bought in to HD-DVD because the Xbox 360 player was relatively inexpensive, and that's what Transformers was on. I had no choice. :)

And to my surprise, Amazon has given me a $50 credit for my pain. So given that, I think my "loss" was really only around $200 if you count the discs I bought. Meh. It's not a little money, but it's not like I went nuts buying discs.

The truth is that after renting movies on the Apple TV, I wonder how much longer I'll continue to collect. I mean, granted, it's nice to just bust out Lebowski when I want to hear, "Phone's ringin' dude!"

Used anal beads

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 10, 2008, 4:39 PM | comments: 2

College TV flashback

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 10, 2008, 10:14 AM | comments: 7

Oh yeah... takin' it way back...

At Ashland in radio/TV, we covered the county fair every fall, and each day there was an opening program. On the last day, the producer got to do it free form. I signed up, and me and my camera guy basically made it up as we went along. Hey, we got to skip classes all day and ride stuff for free. Can you believe the swinging ship operator jumping on the ride?

And yes, I was sporting the Adam Johnson hair cut.

There's an event in our future

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 10, 2008, 12:08 AM | comments: 15

Given all of the relationship talk and hanging out with Diana's family, being around babies, enthusiastically traveling about together, you can imagine that we've been having some bigger talks.

So if you're part of the inner circle, keep in mind a potential travel date for the first quarter of next year. If things work out right, shoes will be optional.

That's all there is to say for right now.

Google is watching you

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 4:36 PM | comments: 7

I admit, it's a little freaky that Google took a picture of my house. That would've been last spring I think, because the grassy stuff around the light post is green.

Even more creepy, if you look closely, I think they got Emma leaving Diana's porch. She's blurry, but there's definitely a gray thing in motion.

The house I grew up in looks tiny.

Calacanis on life: Put another quarter in and try again

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 4:17 PM | comments: 0

Jason Calacanis annoys me in so many ways, but at the same time there's something fascinating about him. Regarding stress and entrepreneurs, he had this to say:

In some ways I think I've realized that life is just a big video game and if one game doesn't work out you put another quarter in and try again. It's no big deal. That's the great part of the society and time we live in: you can go for it, fail, and then go for it again. Nothing is lost, a lot of experience is gained. You can't act a fool, but you can reach for the stars and miss.

I know certain people who should print that out and frame it, applying the concept to career, relationships and everything in life.

NBA age limit

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 3:58 PM | comments: 1

Love him or hate him, Mark Cuban's assertion that the NBA needs a minimum age limit is right on.

I would add to his position that it also addresses the issue of education and the NCAA, which honestly doesn't give a shit about degrees, only the business. For every kid that quits school to play in the NBA, how many really rise to make a long-term living of it? And of those, how many have nothing to show for it?

The idea that "they could get hurt before they go pro" is a bullshit cop out. You want to be a professional? Get a degree, then play.

My new Weighted Companion Cube

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 3:13 PM | comments: 4

I ordered my very own Weighted Companion Cube. And other stuff.

The cake is a lie.

The effortless relationship

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 2:58 PM | comments: 15

We talk a lot about relationships on this site, and how to make them work. Inevitably, Gonch comes in and mentions how his marriage has been easy and doesn't require any maintenance. After a marriage and various short to medium-term relationships, I think I finally understand what the hell he's talking about.

Diana and I, after living together three months and dating for 10, have never had any arguments. It is, for us, effortless. I would not argue that it's my personality or hers that make this possible, but rather the combination of our two personalities. Obviously with my marriage and dating experience, I don't operate the same way with everyone. Diana has had a similar experience. So there's this unquantifiable thing defined by the combination of two interacting personalities. Some work, so don't.

This leaves you with questions if you're out playing the field. First, is everyone able to find a person who can co-exist this way? I don't think so, but I think the people who can't are rare. Second, do you know when you have it? That's harder, because you need something to compare to.

For example, I suck at cleaning. I don't make it a prioritized task, and when I have time available, I want to either slack or work on my various projects. Diana will just start cleaning stuff, and I'll feel bad about it because that's the way I was "programmed" to feel in past relationships. My experience influences the behavior. Now I have to peel that back and realize that the negative feelings aren't necessary.

In other cases where you have negative feelings, and you feel the other person causes them, that's when you have a clue that perhaps things aren't right. When it becomes a pattern of negatives, that should be a dead giveaway. I'm now of the opinion that allowing yourself to exercise in broad compromise over bigger picture things is akin to be dishonest with yourself. Over time that can be really destructive.

I'm not suggesting you need perfection. I am suggesting that if negative feelings pile up, that maybe the other person isn't best for you. In my case, the worst thing I can come up with about Diana is the funny way she loads the dishwasher, and that's not even on the radar of being something I care that much about.

The only variable I can consider a threat to this is that people change. I guess the scope of change, more specifically, is the threat. If I decided tomorrow to, "You know, walk the earth, meet people... get into adventures. Like Caine from 'Kung Fu,'" I'm pretty sure that Diana would not be interested in being with me, and that's to be expected.

Why don't they teach this shit in college?

10 Years of PointBuzz

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 10:25 PM | comments: 3

I realized today that I've been at this unofficial Cedar Point fanboy site thing now for ten years. Ten years! What were you doing ten years ago? I was working in Medina, Ohio, as the cable TV monkey, doing my shows and spending the city's money. And I was getting into this Internet thing.

Guide to The Point launched in April, 1998. At first it was just some photos and some bullshit tips I made up about enjoying the park. By the end of that year, I installed a UBB forum, and it just took off from there. That December I put ads on the site, and I made $11.09.

The next year and points beyond, I wrote the code for everything on the site myself, including the forum. A lot of people don't realize it, but I was first to use "rich text" editing for posts, where you could highlight something and make it bold. No forum had that other than mine at the time.

In 2000, Walt started Virtual Midway, and in 2004, we decided to join forces. I had a very active community on GTTP, but I dreaded keeping up with the content. Walt was all about content, and I loved writing code, so between the two of us it only made sense to combine our efforts. I think it has really worked out. I'm particularly proud of the fact that we scaled back on content for the latest version and concentrated on what people were really using, instead of trying to duplicate stuff that was on the official site anyway.

The community is the real shining point though, for PB and CoasterBuzz. Over the years, people have come and gone from my life, but even though pundits claim the Internet is making us more disconnected, it's those friends I've met online that are still there. Sure, you may have a hundred times more superficial acquaintances because of the Internet, but I think the "real" and close friendships that come out of that are ten times better than what you'd find via work, dating, church or whatever.

But wow... a decade. That's a long time to be working at something. I've had seven full-time jobs in that time!

Burn! Burn! Burn! You burn me! And other music and data musings

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 7:21 PM | comments: 2

+1 to anyone who gets the title reference.

I finally, after, gosh, six months or so, got around to buying a replacement DVD drive for my Mac Pro, as it flaked out and stopped working. Coincidentally, it's the newer generation of the drive from Pioneer, and I think the unit that might be shipping in some current models. Install was relatively painless now that I understand how to take it apart. Normally you wouldn't have to, but I trashed the IDE cable awhile ago, as previously mentioned. I bought a huge 36" cable this time so there are no distance issues, and I managed to not mangle it.

Last year I bought Diana a 2nd generation iPod Nano for, I dunno, I think just because, and ever since she started car shopping she's been hell bent on making it work in her car. I think an auxiliary audio jack was in her requirements. :) In any case, I got her this thing and she says it's awesome. My requirement was that it fed audio from the line-out in the dock connector and not out the headphone jack, which is juiced already and not suitable for the aux in on the car.

Tonight I'm going to try and upload my music collection to S3 via JungleDisk. Already have the 5 gigs of my docs from over the years up there, at an astronomical cost of 80 cents so far. I tried to do my 13 years of e-mail, but at 30,000+ files it choked. It might be a bug in JungleDisk, but I'm investigating.

Why it's OK for the journey to take awhile

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 11:46 AM | comments: 5

After my previous post about babies, and with a comment that Mike made to me after the podcast this week ("Get your travel in now, because it's over once you have a kid"), I've come to the conclusion that the length of time in my journey with regards to family and such is totally OK.

In my post-college life, which now numbers almost 13 years (!), I have to say that I've had a very enjoyable, mostly unencumbered lifestyle. Sure, the period of time where I was trying to figure out what was best with regards to Stephanie and I was weird, but overall I've really liked my life. I don't regret not having children or getting divorced. I don't feel like I've missed anything.

Certainly Diana's brother puts that in perspective. He's 41 and just had a child. He's starting his own business. I think he's a real model against the idea that you need to establish all of these milestones before you're 25. I really believed that when I was in college.

This stuff has been on my mind a lot lately, especially after being exposed to Diana's family and the constant questions about when the wedding is supposed to be. She doesn't even have all of her stuff moved in! But the life changes are something on my mind too, since it's clear that I'm starting another phase of my life. It's strange to think about how much I've experienced thus far, and how I can consider that there was this long era where things were aligned differently than they will be going forward. One thing is for certain, the change is a lot easier to take than it was right after college, where you're going off on your own into completely uncharted territory.

Funny how life never stops being interesting.

Review: How To Be A Megastar DVD

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 7, 2008, 5:04 PM | comments: 2

I've been meaning to write a review of this for awhile, so here it is...

When Blue Man Group created a touring rock concert with The Complex, they recorded and released a DVD. It was, at best, a tease to get you to see the stage shows, since the tour ended about the same time. The DVD was horribly flawed. It wasn't mastered correctly as anamorphic widescreen, but rather it was letterboxed. The audio mix was questionable. There were visible compression artifacts. The exposure during dark parts of the show was poor, and they tried to compensate with bad video effects. The editing was terrible too, with visuals not matching audio, and countless shots of a lame crowd. This new DVD corrects all of that.

When the How To Be A Megastar tour launched three years later, the show had been heavily tweaked. Through five legs of the tour, changes were made at least three times, and various performers came and went. The last iteration of the tour is what's represented on this DVD (and CD), and it's easily the tightest version of it.

Almost the entire show is represented, with a lively crowd and a great performance by the excellent band. The arena experience is captured with a lot of great wide shots, including a camera in the "crappy seats," to give you an idea of how "big" the show feels. The scope is much bigger than the fixed theatrical shows, though many of the same comedic bits are shared.

The video clips for the "Megastar" manual are included here, played by Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live fame, as well as the Floppie the Banjo Clown clips.

Peter Moore is the male vocalist for the show. He sang on several of the recorded tracks for The Complex, and on the original tour. The guy is all-pro and has a bit of a rockstar quality. He left the tour shortly after this show to pursue a solo record. Adrian Hartley is the female vocalist, who replaced Tracy Bonham during one of the interim tour legs. She gets a lot of crap for little reason other than not being Bonham, but she's capable on most of the songs. "I Feel Love" was delivered on The Complex tour (and recording) with Annette Strean from Venus Hum (who also opened on that tour), and admittedly it's hard to stack up against her pipes. The absence of Bonham also means that they have no violinist for "Baba O'Riley," but I maintain that it's just different, not better or worse.

As I said, the music is a lot tighter throughout the show. Where we were once left with just the Blue Man Voiceover guy, the band plays. Several pieces from the theatrical show are therefore worked in to the show, and it flows more like a Top 40 radio station than an orchestra concert with an intermission. It keeps the energy level up. We get some fresh arrangements on a number of songs as well, and Moore and Hartley complement each other well. "Sing Along" in particular is given a Mexican feel (if Mexican music used air poles), complete with the horn section from a Mariachi band. Newer pieces like the adaptation of the wire man routine from the stage shows, in this case "Light Suits," drive toward the fake ending, and the newer song "Rock and Go" really capture the old fashioned rock concert finale the way few "real" rock concerts do.

The special features include the original "I Fell Love" (with Strean from Venus Hum) and a video piece that was dropped mid-tour, with Armisen assuming the role of "Mono" with a guitarist called "The Side" (like U2, get it?). He makes his plea for saving old CRT TV's. It's followed by the TV routine made famous in the stage shows.

They've also included the documentary "Inside The Tube" from PBS. It has been edited slightly for the DVD. For example, the original program had a bit where they showed video for the light suits, something they were "working on," but has since been worked into this tour and also some of the stage shows. The biggest benefit here is that you don't have to sit through half-hour intermissions of PBS asking for money.

The CD is really the icing on the cake. Just as the iTunes-only release of the stage show from The Venetian, you get an appreciation for how good the band is live. My only complaint is that seem to mix the giant bass drum too low, which is odd because the show is so much about percussion.

Overall, this is the video that I think Blue Man Group fans have been waiting for, for a long time. My hope is that it's also a turning point, because much of this material has been around now for a lot of years, and I think fans are dying for something new. What we've seen to this point has been more of an evolution than anything else. At this point, they need something new.

All of the good domain names are spam

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 7, 2008, 1:35 PM | comments: 1

I hate it that when I come up with an idea I like for a Web app, site or service, that even the most obscure variations of domain names are taken. What's worse, they're all just spam sites with links to ads. That's annoying.

The most tragic of these was when the guy who used to run sold his site to a spammer. That was the year I made the money, and I actually offered $10k for it. It's just spam now, which is a damn shame.

WTF Google AdSense?

posted by Jeff | Sunday, April 6, 2008, 7:24 PM | comments: 4

OK, so I keep seeing ads on my blog for Vietnamese and Japanese beauties/brides/dates. What the hell? Do my blog posts contain "mail order bride" somewhere?

Babies babies babies

posted by Jeff | Sunday, April 6, 2008, 6:48 PM | comments: 2

I feel like Kara with her post a few months ago, but why does it feel like everyone is pregnant?

We had dinner with Cousin Dave and Niki last night, and they're pregnant. Diana's bro just had a baby. There are babies and pregnant women all over work, as well as two guys on my team having children. It just feels like there are babies popping out everywhere!

Naturally Diana and I have talked about that too. Being in our mid-30's we certainly understand that the window of opportunity for child sprouting is not infinitely long. But you know, we have to get married first, and then there's the whole no turning back thing you think about whenever someone else's baby prefers to cry for hours instead of be happy.

The funny thing is that we know we'd both be awesome parents. I think that in our quests find what gives life meaning, being a parent is probably the thing that can give the greatest sense of purpose. Most parents I know consider their kids to be their greatest accomplishments.

Asshole neighbors

posted by Jeff | Sunday, April 6, 2008, 12:26 PM | comments: 6

I've mentioned many times over the last seven years how I have some real asshole neighbors with an asshole kid. It all began before we had lawns and the woman was washing the dirt off her driveway twice daily, when it would blow back, and there was a drought. Moron.

Then there was the time the kid was kicking a ball around between the houses and hitting mine. Or the time he would leave shit at my front door, ring the bell and run. That was the only time I've ever talked to either parent, or in this case yell at the woman and tell her I'd call the police if I ever caught the little bastard vandalizing my landscaping again. Then there's that fucking yip-yip dog that barks every time we go in the hot tub.

But that's the extent I've had contact with them. I can't say I've ever done anything (that they'd know about ;)) to piss them off. So while we were in Vegas, Cousin Dave was coming over to feed the cats. One day the snow was out of control, and he wasn't going to get into my driveway. But of course the anal-retentive assholes next door were snow blowing it in real time. So he pulled in and asked if he could park there for half an hour. He explained who he was to the dude, and the dude asked, "You mean the guy who lives next door?" He paused, thought about it, and said, "No."

What the fuck is that about? Your kid, dog and driveway washing wife are assholes, and you penalize my cousin for it?

There's one in every neighborhood. Fortunately the old folks next door are very nice.

Cat potty problems

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 4, 2008, 11:01 PM | comments: 5

Just before we left for Seattle, one of the cats peed on the rug (it really tied the room together) in the kitchen. No idea at the time who did it. We also found a small deuce when we got back from Vegas.

The first suspect was Gideon just because he has a history of infection issues. It still seemed like a horrible flash back of Luna's behavioral problems though, and I wanted to peg Oliver for it since he's got the same OCD and crazy eye tendencies as Luna. I don't think either one of us considered Emma because she's actually pretty laid back most of the time.

Well today, I caught Cosmo trying to bury something in the corner, went over and found that someone peed there. I didn't see anyone else there so I assume it was her. Then this evening, while I was down in the office, someone took a huge dump. Gideon I can rule out because he's been upstairs since I got home. Emma hasn't really moved. So Cosmo and Oliver have been running around, but it sure looks like orange fur in the excrement. Gross, I know, but I needed a clue.

On one hand, I don't want to believe it's her, because she's never done anything like that in her 11 years. On the other hand, "her" house has been rocked by the addition of three roommates who are all very used to each other and somewhat clique-ish. But why now, after three months?

I remember back in the day that the vet suggested multiple litter boxes in different places, as they tend to claim them as their own. We have two together, but honestly I don't know where else we can put one. There's just no convenient place.

This upsets me. I want them all to just get along. I don't want to revisit the Luna days of a trashed and soiled house because of a cat with emotional problems.

Silverlight code reuse

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 4, 2008, 1:18 PM | comments: 0

Scott Guthrie posted a neat demo on reusing a block of UI between projects in Silverlight. He uses Expression Blend and Visual Studio. I'm impressed at how flexible EB really is.

Check it here.

It's a digital world, baby

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 4, 2008, 11:54 AM | comments: 0

So Apple is now the number one music retailer in the world. I can't say that's really shocking at this point, but circa 2003, when I bought my first iPod, I would not have expected it. Now if only they'd free the remainder of the catalog and stop using DRM. If they'll charge me a couple of dimes to do the upgrade to 256k, DRM-free files, I'll do it.

In my recent musings about photos, I've come to realize that we're in a much better place to preserve our personal media than we ever were before. Within the home, I can have giant hard drives, and they backup not to some goofy tape format, but another hard drive connected to my router. And once I have all of my older photos in place digitally, they'll all be backed up into the cloud on S3. All of my music, photos and documents will be duplicated outside of my house.

Ten years ago, I had negatives and prints, existing only in my house. I had stacks of CD's, existing only in my house. I had file cabinets of documents, only in my house. Do you see the weak point? One tornado or fire or meteorite and all of that would be lost. Now it doesn't have to be that way.

I <3 the Intertubes.

I think I'm going to skip HRP

posted by Jeff | Friday, April 4, 2008, 10:50 AM | comments: 5

The more I think about it, the more I think I'm going to skip the trip to Hard Rock Park. Given the duration of the trip and what I'll get out of it, I'm just not so sure it's worth it. I feel like I need to be financially responsible, with several other trips in the works, carpet to buy, and frankly it'd be nice to keep the business debt at zero for as long as I can.

Plus it's a pain in the ass to get there, and I'm a little travel weary. We'd have to go to Pittsburgh and fly out of there to get a decent rate (and by decent I mean it's still over $200).

I'm just not as hard core about amusement parks as I used to be.

New graphs on Google Analytics, money chasing

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 3, 2008, 9:36 PM | comments: 0

They finally let you graph by month, which is many ways is far more useful than looking at long range trends by day.

For PointBuzz, not surprisingly, our pages per visit went up, and our bounce rate went down, when we re-launched. Granted, that's the slow season anyway, so I don't think I can make really meaningful comparisons until I've got an entire year's worth of data. I didn't start using Analytics until April. I don't really have anything to look at yet on CoasterBuzz either, since winter shows a dip in traffic.

Ad revenue had a nice little jump last month for the first time in forever, especially considering traffic was flat. CPM's were slightly higher all around, which I can't explain. I've been reading that ad revenue across the Internet is on the rise, but the numbers always include Google ads, which can sway the numbers, but aren't all that relevant to me. They (the analysts) say that advertisers continue to spend less on other media but are spending more online. I just wish they'd spend at the 1999 level. That would make me super happy!

I've been looking at advertising revenue in a general sense a lot in the last few weeks, particularly after Mix and some of the sessions there regarding the monetization of online content. There was a lot of optimism at the conference, which is inspiring. I think we had two or three years there where it seemed like good old fashioned display advertising was doomed because of the success of Google and the idea in marketers' heads that counting clicks was everything. They're starting to remember this thing called branding again. Duh.

Of course, you've still got head scratchers. While Yahoo can nail down CPM's in the $20 to $50 range, Facebook can't command even a buck. Someone there should be fired. You have intimate knowledge about the person's location, gender, age and education... how are they not getting a premium for that kind of targeting?

It's exciting to watch, and fun to be a part of. I hope I can make it a bigger part this year.

Follow your bliss

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 3, 2008, 5:17 PM | comments: 6

I was watching the Inside the Tube Blue Man doc on the new DVD, which I've seen before, and they talked about how the Joseph Campbell philosophy of "following your bliss" was key to being happy in life. Songs like "Persona" and "The Complex" are examples of people who stopped doing that. I think Diana and I were a little horrified when we both realized that sometimes we're not following our bliss at all.

I'm kind of interested to read some of Campbell's books now, because following your bliss is clearly at odds with survival at times. Granted, something like the character in "The Complex" goes to a level that we certainly have not...

I work on the highest floor
There’s nothing in my way
But I saw my picture on the bathroom door today
I don’t feel like working anymore, is that okay?
I’m so far in, I can’t get out...

I made it to the highest floor
By working every day
But I can’t remember anymore what it was like to play
If I could only find the exit door, I’d run away
I’m so far in, I can’t get out

Those are the kind of people who never have the realization that working for The Man can come at a very high cost, as you fight The System.

The System is something right out of various KMFDM lyrics, and I think it's more encompassing than just The Man. Ultimately it's The System that conflicts with following your bliss, because we need The System to a certain degree. It's not that those of us who are aware of this situation need it to buy stuff. I hate it when people think that every financially successful person is in it for the cash. I think aware people need The System to provide a certain level of security and stability, without which we may have a hard time being happy. And yet, we may not be happy working in The System.

It does occur to me though that in the journey (which is what I find more rewarding than some eventual destination), we can't declare The Man or The System inherently evil, or as a means to an end. Rather, we need to consider them as symbionts. The trick is to figure out how to make them serve you, and serve them in return, in a way that is mutually beneficial. I think most people find great happiness is contributing something to someone or our environment, and everyone has something that can work. Identifying it is the challenge.

When you really strip away all of the bullshit, I think you can surprise yourself and see just how much bliss following you're already doing.

Short sex is good sex

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 3, 2008, 11:41 AM | comments: 5

I guess I had it all wrong...

Travel travel travel

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 3:51 PM | comments: 1

Already I've gone on air travel trips three times this year (Orlando, Las Vegas and Seattle), and I can nail down three more for sure (Myrtle Beach for HRP, Orlando for IAAPA and Las Vegas for a friend's birthday). Yikes!

I'm still trying to figure out a few more as well. I did promise Kara we'd come out to MSP. Kennywood and Holiday World are driving trips. Italy is a question mark in part because Diana's family hasn't made any solid plans yet. Denver/Boulder would be nice. San Francisco is way up there. A visit to Chicago to see Mike and Artemisa is way overdue too.

As much as I love travel, I have to admit that right now I've had my fill or airports, but given this weekend's nonsense that's not surprising. Yet we'll be on a plane in a month. I think it's really nice to have the opportunity to travel at least once a month though, even if it's somewhere you've been. The change of scenery keeps you feeling a certain amount of vitality, I think.

Above Skee-Ball

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 12:13 PM | comments: 6

Listened to the first few tracks on Megastar on the way to lunch, and the Winking Lizard just got classic Skee-Ball machines.

Whatever the rest of the day brings, it is pretty sweet so far.

Megastar DVD == total awesomeness

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 10:58 AM | comments: 2

How To Be A Megastar Live on DVD (with CD!) came yesterday to work. I popped it in for a quick preview, and this is some cream-in-your-pants worthy stuff for the Blue Man Group fan. The fact that the entire thing (minus the video segments) is also on the CD for your audio listening pleasure is fucking brilliant. And it's only fifteen bucks!

This one seems to capture the whole feeling of the show better, in part because the editing seems minimal. They cut to wide shots of the arena between songs, so it has the same flow. This is the 2.1 version of the tour, with Peter Moore and Adrian Hartley as the singers. It's definitely the tightest version of the show in terms of flow, and from the few tracks I previewed, it seems to translate extremely well. It even sounds more like an arena show.

Special features include the Inside The Tube doc that was on PBS, as well as the videos for "I Feel Love" and "Mono."

Can't wait to rock this at home tonight!

Home at last

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 11:48 PM | comments: 7

So we learned that the likely problem with American is that they simply didn't have a pilot because those that they have were over-budget on hours for the month. I remember seeing on the news somewhere that was a problem with certain airlines, so it doesn't surprise me.

It was nice to have an extra day in Snoqualmie. As I mentioned previously, it was nice to spend some more time with Diana's brother, sis-in-law, dad and Nina. But alas, we did have to eventually come home.

American re-booked us on Northwest, with a stop in Detroit of all places. We were next to each other on opposite sides of the aisle for the long part, which was actually pretty fast with the jet stream up your ass. I slept for at least an hour of that flight.

Getting out of Detroit sucked ass. The flight itself was only 23 minutes, but we spent more time taxiing around the airport than that. And some asshole parents with their asshole kids were annoying everyone including the flight attendants, with the youngest one crying the entire time. Super annoying.

Getting back to the house, it just seems like a total fucking mess and it bothers me. Being in a new house all weekend, I realize mine isn't so new anymore. Part of it is that I need to execute on the replacement carpet, and I'm not sure when to do that, before or after Diana's final move-in happens. I would think before, so we have less to move between rooms between the installations. But I also want to do it with cash, so I need to hold off for a month or two.

Overall though, what a great weekend. We didn't do any of the touristy shit in Seattle, and that's OK. I still look forward to going back!