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"One that's made entirely out of syrup!" [10 Sep 2007|01:24pm]
I just wanted to say-- quickly, because I have to go-- that Mountain Dew's Halo 3-branded Game Fuel flavor tastes like the bottom of a melted Slurpee. You know, the mixed one that you make with 2 or 3 flavors. I'm not criticizing it.* If you like that sort of thing, drink up.

*This is a lie.
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Is it me... [13 Jun 2007|09:56am]
... or were pizza-kit and cookie-dough fundraiser companies created solely to try the boundaries of "dough" wordplay?
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Why Microsoft Surface Won't Happen [30 May 2007|01:01am]
[ mood | skeptical ]

Microsoft SurfaceMicrosoft announced its new multi-touch table Surface interface, today. At first, I was pretty excited about it. I mean, what could be cooler than having a computing device at your fingertips? So what if my arms get tired, I'm in Minority Report! But, while browsing the Microsoft Surface homepage, it occurred to me somewhere between the restaurant menu-selection buttons whizzing by with dessert images plus star ratings and the two cellphones demonstrating their comparison features when both set on the Surface that this product that I had seen the same ads before. Not for the Surface, but for a myriad of nameless, faceless virtual products in AT&T's "You Will" campaign 13 years ago. Here's a YouTube clip of a handful of the commercials:

The background music, pacing, phrasing, smiling... it all reeks of Blade Runner world optimism.

It's not that I don't think the product will ever... ahem, surface: I'm sure it will, in some form. I mean that Surface won't "happen" just like the Segway never "happened," and why I can't renew my driver's license from an ATM like AT&T promised. Obviously, it's much easier to be a naysayer than to do the work, but right now, Microsoft is counting on public places like hotels, restaurants, etc... to snatch these things up. I just don't see enough already cost-conscious, internet-saavy hotel customers being willing to pay the premium rates for a hotel that sinks its money into a gadget that will, no doubt, be just a novelty for the guests. The same goes for a restaurants and their often tight profit margins. Not to mention the inevitable time-hogging such a device would create, defeating any useful purpose it may have had to begin with.

Of course, a device such as this could succeed with time, and that must be what Microsoft is betting on. Perhaps a transition into the way-too-expensive hardware/software combination is a way to protect its target market from the patent-infringing Linux developers. Can't GPL that!

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Evil Dead the Musical? [21 Oct 2006|12:31pm]
[ mood | musical ]

So, I guess there's a musical for Evil Dead.

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My Stop Motion Experiment [25 Sep 2006|11:30pm]

My Stop Motion Experiment
"My Stop Motion Experiment" on Google Video
Although it's really just a novelty, now, at the time, I thought this was the coolest thing in the world: recording my action figures in my bedroom with a video camera to emulate stop motion animation. I later found out that a lot more people do this than I had originally thought, and a lot better. Since I'm in an Google Video uploading frenzie, though, I thought I'd share it with you.
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Don't Read This Post [22 Aug 2006|09:35pm]
In the unlikely event that you haven't been made aware of the news, Weird Al's next album "Straight Outta Lynwood" will be arriving September 26th. And you probably already knew that he released a single that will not be on the album called "You're Pitiful" (parodying "You're Beautiful"). And you should have also heard by now that he also released the first single from the new album is a marked departure from the tried-and-true formula of launching with a parody. It's called "Don't Download This Song," which is a bowl-me-over original that you just have to hear. And to top it all off, the music video for "Don't Download This Song" will be appearing on Yahoo! Premieres Tuesday, August 22, @ 10:00 PM PST. (song links above are hosted by me)

WeirdAl.com seems to be taking a pretty substantial hit due to the increased traffic count from the song, and I'm thinking that this song was a smart internet release for publicity's sake with the YouTube/Google Video generation's insatiable thirst for new media. In addition, the not-so-successful Weird Al Show was released on DVD, for the die-hard Al fans. You've got a lot to look forward to, true believers!
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NewEgg Firefox Quick Search Bookmarklet [20 Apr 2006|08:52pm]
[ mood | non-lazy ]

If you use Firefox, you may have discovered that you can use and create quick searches (also called smart keywords) for pretty much any website you want, provided they support GET queries. Common quick searches include Google and IMDB. This works by simply typing a chosen keyword (set in the bookmark's properties) into a blank address bar, followed by your search query (i.e. "imdb Sean Connery") would fill Sean%20Connery where %s appears in the quick search URL. (%20 is the escape sequence for a space in a URL) More info about how to work with quick searches is available at lifehacker.com.

This becomes a difficulty when the website is expecting a different URL format for the GET query, like NewEgg. NewEgg expects the GET query to be separated by plus signs (+) instead of %20. Using the standard quick search results in a failure and an error page. Since Firefox does not allow custom space replacement, a work around had to be made. I decided to try my hand at a bookmarklet quick search. You can drag this bookmarklet into your bookmarks (usually, your "Quick Searches" bookmark folder) and assign it a keyword by right-clicking on it and entering whatever you want (mine's "ne").

Get the NewEgg Quick Search (sorry, LiveJournal blocks bookmarklets, visit my page to get this bookmarklet, though)

Firefox Quick Search Properties dialog

You can make use of the NewEgg Quick Search bookmarklet by either:

  1. ... clearing the address bar, typing in the keyword you choose, a space then your desired product search
  2. ... selecting a portion of a website that you want to search for, then clicking the NewEgg Quick Search
  3. ... just clicking the bookmarklet and typing your product search into the prompt that appears

You can also substitute clicking for entering the keyword into the address bar in the last two steps, if you want. This is not tested in other browsers, so it may or may not work, I don't know.

I hope you get some use out of this bookmarklet. Let me know if you have any ideas for other stubborn quick searches.

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OMG, I'm m1k3 w4LL4c3, LOL!!! [20 Jan 2006|09:17am]
[ mood | A.D.D. ]

Jonathan 'Fatal1ty' Wendel, smiling like an idiot 1337 gamer, Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel will be making an appearance on 60 Minutes this Sunday, pimping his new mouse, no doubt.

"Look back 50 years from now….There had to be someone at the turn of the century that played baseball. There had to be a Babe Ruth, a Ty Cobb. There has to be a Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel." -- Wendel’s marketing agent, Mark Walden
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Apple iWeb's Nonsemantic Markup [13 Jan 2006|02:25pm]
[ mood | aggravated ]

One of the web design blogs I subscribe to reviewed the code output of Apple's new iWeb product. I thought it was interesting how much it's a FrontPage redeux, but read midway through the comments and all of the Apple fanboys start popping up proclaiming semantic markup idiotic and Apple the most wonderful company to grace this earth with their products. Amazingly, they miss the point that every new web editor released to the market that shuns semantic HTML actually hurts the future of the web, even if it's a product for "normal people."

I guess I don't see why a web editor has to lower markup quality and increase file sizes in order to lower the barrier to entry for budding web publishers. I thought creativity was wrought by limitations. I guess it's just disappointing that people who know what semantics mean are completely willing to discard it in favor of ease of use.

Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better. - John Updike

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Goodbye Houston (Go 'Stros?) [21 Oct 2005|02:03pm]
[ mood | flighty ]

Well, I've been in Houston for about 4 weeks now, and I'm finally leaving. My company sent me down to do tech support for our emergency employees and what started out as 2-3 weeks went to 4. I was on-call all day and night, every day and night since I got here. I didn't have to take many calls during business hours, as the normal help desk took most of those and the people I support were out handling claims. I tried to fill in with whatever needed doing. Nights got very busy, though.

I'm not complaining at all, as it gave me a chance to get out from behind my desk and meet more people. It's been a lot of fun, but I think that I would never want to live in Houston. The Hilton was nice, but anything outside of the neighborhood was trashy.

And the traffic is delightful! Houston traffic is just like DC, traffic, I think. It's weirder than DC, in that the parts backing up are on 6 lane highways. I decided that what Houston needs is a commuter rail system of some sort. And soap. Lots of soap.

I got to take a look at some Rita damage out in Silsbee and Beaumont, as well. It's just weird to see towering trees completely broken in half. I wish I could say that I took a lot of pictures, but I was just too busy to take many. And the few that I took aren't anything special, so I'll spare you.

I'm flying back toward Grand Rapids in about an hour, so I've got some time to burn at the airport. I'll have a weekend free (starting now), a week of laptop setup and configuration in GR, then flying down to Lakeland, FL to help with Wilma for a bit. (I'm guessing less than a week)

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IE hasLayout Bug Explanation [06 Sep 2005|02:16pm]
Microsoft has put out a pretty good (and enjoyably self-implicative) reference on a lot of the bugs/quirks that IE6 suffers from currently. They mention their collaborators in their blog post as well as at the bottom of the guide. I'm relieved to see this continuing trend of community involvement from the IE devs, but my cynicism forces me to remain cautious.
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Riviera Break [01 Mar 2005|07:15pm]
My wife and I are heading to the Mayan Riviera this Saturday, and I can't wait to take time off from work. Things have been so busy for me. Last time we vacationed I felt so relaxed that I literally didn't have to do anything unless I wanted to do it. This time Saturday, I'll be completely snow-free and warm in Mexico!

I know that a lot of people vacation in the Riviera Maya area, so I wondered if anybody had any must-do excursions that we should do, or any fun things in that part of Mexico. We already went snorkeling in a sinkhole, cave, and inlet on one excursion. We also went to see the Mayan ruins and rode ATVs through the jungle, so those are already done. Really, anything fun/interesting would be cool, not just pre-pay tourist excursions. Any suggestions? Otherwise, I'm just going to look forward to more shovelling.
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Jobs are Overrated Anyway [28 Jan 2005|08:22pm]
[ mood | exhausted ]

So, I found out yesterday that I didn't get that training job that I applied for at my work, because I basically don't have enough real-business experience using our system. The hiring supervisor informed me of that yesterday, and my current supervisor (who was also involved in the selection process) talked to me about it today. They were both saying good things about my sample presentation and sounded like I impressed them with it. But my supervisor had already told me before that he thinks I don't understand how much of the system relates to the business, because I started with this job doing software support and I'm learning inversely.

I see where he's coming from, and I agree, because I told the hiring supervisor that from the get go after he approached me about applying for the job. I told my current supervisor that I could pick up on those things pretty quickly, though, and he agreed with me. During my rejection ceremony, the (non-)hiring supervisor mentioned that I had "opened some people's eyes to my abilities and knowledge of the system," and that would be "nothing but good for me in the future." I didn't really know what he meant by that, but it obviously didn't help me in the immediate future.

Our small department had a meeting today regarding some restructuring that was going on, and my supervisor congratulated the other person (who also works for my current supervisor) on accepting the job. Then he mentioned that it was not an easy decision because I had also applied and did a really well on my sample presentation. So, he said that they might have me do some occasional training for the users. I mocked, "Wayne, we like what you did, but we want to keep you at the same pay grade."

I'm not bitter or sad about it, because I think that's obviously not where I'm supposed to be right now. But, I heard through our new guy, who's going through some claims training, that the training and development department is looking at adding another position for someone to sit with the claims people and answer any usability questions that they might have. In that light, it then made sense what the hiring supervisor had said about opening people's eyes. Are they looking into creating a position just for me? I guess that's cooler than getting the other job, except I wouldn't get to travel around the country.

Maybe it's a not going to happen. Maybe it's a rumor. It's just an honor to be nominated.

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Forging Source as Never Before [20 Jan 2005|01:17am]

In my quest to legitimize my computer's applications, I ditched crackz, warez, and other unsavory terms in favor of purchasing the programs I really want or finding free alternatives to the programs that provided just as much functionality and nearly as much ease of use. Everyone who considers themselves an "advanced" computer user has heard of Linux or open source at least once. I have found that there are some really good free alternatives to commercial software, some even surpass their counterparts in important ways. Here's a small list of my favorite open source applications, in no particular order (okay, maybe organized by number of words). Let the crappy infomercial music begin!

Click here, because I realize that I wrote too muchCollapse )
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Gravy and Biscuits [16 Jan 2005|02:37am]
Last time I talked about the nostromo Speedpad n52 that I received. Well, I took it back and bought the Saitek Gamer's Keyboard instead. I really like this keyboard, because the keys have good response, it's backlit, and it includes a programmable command pad that you can attach to it (which I haven't used, yet).

I also received the Plextor PX-716A DVD dual format/dual layer writer drive as a late Christmas present from my brother. I gotta tell you, I love it. I've burnt some of the shows I've been recording, if you will, to DVD and watched it on our set-top player. The writer comes with Roxio Easy CD/DVD Creator 7, but I had already purchased and installed Nero 6 last year and love it, so I see no reason to switch. The Nero suite also includes NeroVision Express 3, which lets you make very awesome menus (like animated buttons) with very little effort. It's about as close as you can get to Hollywood quality disc menus without paying exorbitant prices or riding a steep learning curve.

I mentioned before that I was applying for a different job at my work. I had the interview a few weeks ago then I made it to the second stage and gave a short 30 presentation (it's a training job) last Friday, the 7th. I was so nervous to give that presentation, because it was so unlike any speech/oral communications class in college. Instead of a grade, this is my life that I'm playing with. And I learned that higher stakes = bowel irritation. I won't hear about the results until sometime next week, I'm guessing. I'll let you know what happened as soon as I find out.
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All I Want for Christmas... [27 Dec 2004|06:46pm]
[ mood | thankful ]

OK, so I didn't get get anything that I put on that list I wrote last week. Which isn't to say that I should have. I have other lists, and I got things off of that, as well. I got FarCry and Half-Life 2, as far as games go, so my free time will be devoted to those for a while. Also, I had a Nostromo Speedpad n52 on my list from a while ago... I almost forgot about it, but Em gave me that, also. I hope that I use it more than I used the now-defunct Microsoft Strategic Commander that I bought a few years ago, back when I was playing the Age of Kings: The Conquerors Expansion regularly. 3 games and $60 later, back on the keyboard... something about specialized controllers just doesn't sit well with me. So far, the Speedpad has been harmless (except for a cramp... in my left arm for once), mostly because it's really just a small subsection of a keyboard, anyway. One thing I hate is how the tiny "space bar" doesn't seem to have a tactile click at the bottom of the key press. Another thing that bugs me is that the tiny orange thumb button does have a tactile click, which doesn't seem right for the type of mushy-feeling button that it looks and feels like. It's also inconvenient to have to put that much resistance against a button that high up with so little leverage. I'm trying to be positive about it, because I did ask for it.

I also received Elf, both Seinfeld DVD sets, and Curb Your Enthusiasm Season one DVD. I figured I would like Curb Your Enthusiasm because I was such a Seinfeld fan, but after two episodes, I see that they are two very different shows. It might take a while to suspend belief enough so that I can get into the story, but so far there's only been two moments when I laughed out loud. I hope it gets better, but I did ask for it.

What type of jerk complains about what he asked for? This kind.

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Last Minute Gift Ideas? No Problem [22 Dec 2004|08:20pm]

I can't count how many strangers are walking right up to me and asking, "Wayne, it's almost Christmas Eve and I have no idea what to get for you or someone like you... Help!" I'd be glad to. If you're shopping for a fresh-out-of-college twenty something who just got married but tries to live like a geek/gamer when he has the chance, you may or may not have come to the right place. Read on anyways, because you don't have anything else to do.

SnapMat computer desk chair mat cherry wood SnapMat

I just found this yesterday, and I think it's awesome. I should probably get a rolling desk chair, first, but who cares? Who wouldn't love to have hard wood that you can roll around on instead of one of those horrible plastic/rubber things? Plus, it's expandable so you can make it snake in any direction that you want (around corners and such). Worth a look.
$269.00 for full-sized SnapMat .:. http://www.snapmat.com
Logitech® Harmony® Remote 688 logitech harmony remote 688

Nothing excites me more than unification of functions. But with most universal remote controls, some of the more complex functions have to be ommitted in order to make it more compatible. Not with the Harmony. As I understand it, all of the buttons can be programmed to your needs from the Internet for any model of any device.
$199.88 at Amazon.com .:. http://www.harmonyremote.com
LaCie Mobile Hard Drive, Design by F.A. Porsche 100GB lacie 100GB mobile hard drive

This little beauty holds plenty of MP3s and movies for easy transport, and I happen to think it looks great as well. Plus, it's bus powered, so there's no stupid AC adapters or power adapter bricks to lug around. Oh, and it works with either USB or FireWire.
$349.00 .:. http://www.lacie.com
Logitech® MX™1000 Laser Cordless Mouse logitech MX-1000 laser mouse

The mouse to end all mouses? Increased precision from arguably the best peripheral maker in the world. No more optical sensors like the days of old. The accuracy is very tight. It also works on glossy surfaces, which the optical mice never did get right. Oh, and it's wireless! My brief spin with Bluetooth never sold me on wireless mice, but the response time for the MX-1000 is supposedly excellent. I wouldn't know because I haven't tried it out, yet. If word of mouth is any indication, I think that you can't go wrong with this mouse.
$79.95 .:. http://www.logitech.com
PX-716A DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW internal E-IDE (ATAPI) drive from Plextor® a beautiful Plextor DVD drive

I've always wanted a DVD writer, and after the years of DVDs being released (since 1997) just now we're able to write dual-layer discs. If you're going to jump into the DVD writer market, you might as well do it with the most reliable and typically the fastest optical drive company on the market. You really don't have any reason to not get this drive.
$149.00 .:. http://www.plextor.com

That's all for now. I'll let you know if I get any thing from that list. :)

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Don't They Teach You How to Draw Blood in Med School? [15 Dec 2004|07:46pm]
I've been working on drawing convincing blood in Paint Shop Pro. I basically want a fresh blood trickle running down a white background. I didn't really know where to start, but I knew that there'd be a lot of red. So, here's a sample of the methods I tried:

fake blood drawings

The left most one used a plain paintbrush stroke, which of course sucked. For the next one I laid the darkest colored stroke first, then drew recursive feathered selections within that, and tried to perform gradual fills within each selection, which worked better, but fills don't work well after the second one, because of the gradients you're filling. For the third one (the lone drop), I used the same feathered selection method, but instead set the background color to the desired shade and use the delete function to fill the entire feathered selection. That worked much better, but the blood looks too velevety, I think. I guess the difference between what I made and wet-looking blood is in the highlights, but I never took an art class. Suggestions for improvement are welcome.
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Living the Journal [10 Dec 2004|06:58pm]
Have you ever checked out all of the options LiveJournal gives you? I wasn't even aware you could do as much with this as you can. For startes, look at their About Livejournal page. It details many of their features, including their ability to include outside site RSS syndication into your Friends page! I guess if you have an RSS reader that you use already, that's fine, but I enjoy going to my (I think) slick-looking Friends Page every day and reading everybody's posts. So, adding my favorite RSS feeds will just make things that much easier.
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Let it Snow! / Make it Stop! [24 Nov 2004|05:31pm]
[ mood | cold ]

Today we received our first real blast of winter in Grand Rapids, with heavy amounts of snow sticking to everything. From what I've heard, people are already in the ditch driving home and it's not pretty. My ForecastFox (formerly WeatherFox) extension is telling me "Heavy Snow, 30°F. Feels like 19°F." Great, I can't wait to step outside...

On the plus side, I like snow (except to drive in and shovel). My boss also just walked by my cube before he left and said that I could knock off early if nobody was calling. And nobody's been calling, so i'm just about gone. Our assistant told me that I have 5 unused vacation days remaining that needs to be used up before the end of the year. So, I'm driving home to Maryland this Saturday and coming back Friday. Hopefully the roads will be clear by then. It would suck to bang up my new-used car.

Oh, by the way, I bought a car two weeks ago to replace my truck that I haven't had for several months, now. I guess I owe a car picture... here's from when I was test-driving it. It's a 2000 Maxima SE, manual transmission.

my Nissan Maxima 2000 SE sits in a dark parking lot with a "2000" sticker on the windshield

Since we're talking about good things, I finally got sick of working on my home computer from 2 nightstands and a plastic drawer system. So, I went out to a second-hand furniture store and picked up this real walnut executive desk for $110.

my wooden computer desk with two monitors, a keyboard, and a mouse upon it

It's really spacious and make late-night gaming sessions a breeze. I also think it does wonders for my back, compared to setting a keyboard on my lap, like I've been doing since January.

Well, if sitcoms are any indication, I should be getting my car smashed or getting myself smashed and hitting some old lady/garage door/fire hydrant/telephone pole/girl on a bike on the way home. Wish me luck!

It snowed way more than it should have. Even after getting off of work 3 hours early, brushing off my car took about 15 minutes, and driving home (which usually takes 30 minutes) took 2 hours! Once I got home and ate, I had to shovel about a foot of snow from our walkway! Check it:

my house covered in snow, my driveway cleared
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