Archive: August, 2007

Stephanie the full-time dietitian and home owner

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 31, 2007, 4:41 PM | comments: 5

For those of you who knew Stephanie through the Intertubes or otherwise, I'm happy to pass along that she's now a lead dietitian at a hospital in Colorado, and she just recently moved into her new condo as well. All in all, it has been a very good month for her!

And she wakes up to a view most of us don't. You know, purple mountains majesty and all that stuff you can see in Colorado. Congrats to her!

"We suck"

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 31, 2007, 1:34 PM | comments: 2

Best high school prank ever! Here's the background...

And here's the video...

NBC Universal has lost their mind

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 31, 2007, 12:36 PM | comments: 2

They want to yank their TV shows from iTunes due to pricing concerns and "to curb piracy." Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Yank your content out of the one place where you do have DRM that people can't currently beat. That way people can go to BitTorrent and steal your shows instead.


Media companies just hopelessly don't get it.

I'm not your tech support, get a Mac

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 31, 2007, 11:29 AM | comments: 1

Given the recent number of Mac converts in the circle of people I know, there has been an overwhelming, and somewhat unexpected pattern. Those who have Macs no longer spend time supporting the computers for their less technical spouses and family members. They deliver on the "it just works" promise. That's pretty powerful.

I still blame part of it, or most of it, on PC manufacturers and Microsoft. When I deleted the junk off of Diana's Dell, a lot of it she wouldn't even know was there, or whether or not it was vital (see: Norton anything) because there's so much headline-induced fear about the dangers of using a computer. You almost have to be a geek to know the real dirt.

But that's just not the case for a Mac. Buy it, turn it on, start doing stuff. That's beautiful.

Now excuse me, I have Kool-Aid® to drink with my two Macs, two iPods, Apple TV and iPhone. :)

The ability to just be

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 30, 2007, 4:19 PM | comments: 8

While I'm certainly not picking on Tyler's post, I think I've really started to understand that the ability to "just be" is a skill that's really hard to come by.

When you're younger, you're eager to do all of the things that "grown ups" do. You want to live the American dream so to speak, and have it all figured out. That in itself is a good thing, because without that drive and curiosity, well, we call that living on public assistance. :)

What they never tell us, and they tell us a lot of things, is that life isn't simply going to college, figuring out something clever to do for the rest of your life, getting married, buying a house and having kids. Most people want those things, and most people do attain them, but it assumes that the world will conform to that vision. It almost never does.

I remember thinking in college that the people who graduated in front of me who didn't stay in the broadcast business were washouts. I used to think they just couldn't cut it. What I know now is that many of them simply didn't enjoy the business, or found more fulfilling or lucrative work doing other things. The problem is that you can't possibly know that until the opportunities have appeared in front of you.

Relationships are a lot like that too. I thought Denise, the girl upstairs my freshman year, would be my future wife. I just feel like a moron over that. I couldn't get over the programming at all. Then I met Stephanie and figured, hey, there are other people out there for me, but this is the one. That one took even longer to figure out, and I never considered that it's even more crazy variable when it involves another person.

In the long run, things have worked out pretty well. I don't feel like I've wasted any time with all of the direction changes since I graduated high school. What I find so staggering is how I couldn't have anticipated any of it. I mean, my imagination wasn't even remotely vivid enough to think up my current state.

And when do you "get there?" You can climb the career ladder, raise a family, achieve all measures of success, but what then? Will you miss anything while trying to achieve the things you think you want? Is it OK to change what you want?

I think it was just this year that I figured out how to just be, without getting wrapped up in looking for a destination. I still suck at it (see endless rants about working for myself, finishing sites, etc.), but at least I have the awareness now. There is love, excitement, opportunity and life all around me, right now. If I think back, there always has been. While being mindful of the future and my goals, I find myself at my happiest when I can just enjoy the moment.

"Because that's all life is, Sister - a series of moments. Why don't you seize yours?"
-Loki to the nun, Dogma

Cincy AVP tourney may be kinda weak

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 30, 2007, 2:20 PM | comments: 1

Well, I'm a little disappointed to read this, but several of the top womens teams won't be competing this weekend because they're in Russia. What a bummer. Unless Misty and Kerri have a bad day, I suspect they'll just beat the crap out of their competition.

Also a bummer, Karch Kiraly is injured and won't play. I guess there's no excuse for me on that one, since the guy has been playing for decades now before he decided to retire this year.

Oh well, it'll be sunny and there will be a lot of players with Olympic hardware to watch. Even though I still think the indoor game is where it's at, I really look forward to seeing pro beach in person!

Orlando and IAAPA: booked!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 30, 2007, 2:06 PM | comments: 0

Tuesday night I squared everything away for the next Orlando trip in November. I have in my head what I'm going to do for my IAAPA conference seminar, but I probably should start hacking that out into something more real soon.

I'm still trying to decide what level of show coverage, if any, I want to do for CoasterBuzz. After the first three years I did it, there just didn't seem to be any point. There was so little new material, plus the industry consolidation, that it wasn't worth my time.

Beyond the trade show, of course I'm going to do some serious relaxing, and ride my beloved Dueling Dragons and Revenge of The Mummy. That'll be four visits in a year. You'd think that I would get tired of Universal Orlando, but for some reason I don't.

Because of the issues I had with the last couple of stays at Royal Pacific, I bitched my way into a free club level room upgrade. I'm interested to see what that's like with the beer and wine every night and such. I'm curious to see what level of service they're really capable of.

And of course, shocker, I got Blue Man Group tickets. A row back and a little to the left, but about the same as the last time.

I talked Diana into coming down for the weekend too. She doesn't have a lot of vacation time left for the year, but I hope I can show her a good time.

Gmail video

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 30, 2007, 11:06 AM | comments: 0

It's always fun to see what happens when you ask people to make video.

Here's what happened when Google's Gmail team asked people to pass around the logo.

Wife beaters are not a fashion

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 6:32 PM | comments: 2

I see a lot of dudes wearing wife beaters. Here's a news bulletin: They are not a fashion.

While I realize that not everyone can wear T-shirts with funny and geeky shit like us cool people, they don't have to wear the top equivalent of a Speedo either. No one wants to see your hairy armpits or bony arms. It makes me want to gag.

What's with the annoying people?

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 5:20 PM | comments: 2

The sun is shining, kids are in school, and the world feels generally groovy if you don't turn on the news.

So what is it with people being so annoying lately. Yesterday I had to boot someone from PointBuzz for calling Pete a stupid drunk (and partly for being annoying). I don't remember the last time I had to boot anyone from there. Then today we had to keep deleting posts by a guy who insisted he should be allowed to sell tickets in the forum, which we've never allowed. Which part of, "It's my house," is not easily understood?

Then today, two Barbies walk into a Chipotle. The first one I hold the inner door for, and she's giving shy body language so I don't think anything of it. The second one, tall, tan and hot is in that questionable distance range where you're not sure if you should hold the door (unless perhaps she was an expectant mother). But the sun is shining, and I'm in no hurry to get back to work, so I hold the door. She just flat out fucking ignores me. Annoyed, I tell her, "You're welcome."

I've also had situations at work as of late where processes and expectations for people I work with are just utterly not met, even though they're relatively easy things to meet. As if I need another reason to be annoyed at work when it's so super awesome outdoors.

I'm going to chalk it up to the full moon and go about my business.

Is Blogger making fun of me?

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 2:28 PM | comments: 3

I was making a comment on a blog and this was the CAPTCHA challenge I got:

Improved power management for iPhone?

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 10:56 AM | comments: 0

Ever since the 1.0.2 update for the iPhone, described only as "bug fixes," I'm getting crazy better battery life from it. I was comfortably charging it every two to three days before, but now even after two days and a fair amount of iPod use, it's lasting much longer. I wonder if they tweaked the power management?

Moon shot

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 12:58 AM | comments: 10

The moon, August 28, 2007. Canon 10D, 70-200mm f/4 L, shot 200mm f/10 at 1/250, ISO 100. That's native resolution, which even with my long lens isn't all that great with the 10D's resolution.

Rockstars, getting played-out and popularity

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 8:24 PM | comments: 3

I was surprised the other day to hear Nickelback's "Rockstar" at a restaurant. While I always thought it was one of the most clever tracks on that album, I also figured it was the least commercially viable (if you were to ask a record exec, anyway), and put on the album just to keep the band happy. Oh, and did I mention that album is f'ing two years old?

The truth is that I've grown to loath the band and even spent a lot of time questioning the value of their music. I've never been all that much of an alterna-snob, mostly not, but when a band gets that much exposure and that many people are into it, I admit that it makes me feel a little dirty. Not like Britney Spears dirty, but definitely unclean.

This is, in part, because of the assloads of shit that the recording industry has been serving up for the better part of the last six or seven years. Maybe they're not selling as much because they're putting out shit no one wants to pay for. There's a crazy notion... produce things people actually want to buy! Even the American auto industry is starting to catch to that concept.

Anyway, the video makes me laugh.

Off-shoring nonsense

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 7:41 PM | comments: 2

I saw a TV spot today from this organization claiming a big conspiracy against American workers by evil corporate America to off-shore jobs or importation of foreigners for those jobs. What a load of crap. (Watch the sad little spot on their site... How are they gonna make that house payment? Maybe by selling that $40,000 car!)

First off, the Department of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment has been on the decline for four years. For that matter, it's still much better than it has been for most of the last three decades.

This kind of noise is caused mostly by tech workers. The problem is that in the post-bubble era that everyone wants that dotcom paycheck, but they can't do the work. Programmers are the most guilty of this.

I realize that it varies from one market to the next, but at least here in Northeast Ohio (Cleveland and Akron), there is no shortage of work. I get calls from recruiters constantly, even though I tell them I'm engaged in a gig I intend to keep for the time being.

Being on the other side of it, I interviewed a great many people in my last contract gig, and was amazed at how inept nearly all of the candidates were. Maybe it's because of that consulting environment, where people don't have the long-term mentoring and training opportunities. I don't really know. But they want big dollars and can't code their way out of a cardboard box.

And this is where you enter the foreigners. The average Indian or Asian worker on a visa here is eager and willing to learn. Frankly you need these people because there aren't enough qualified Americans to fill those jobs.

When I look at that refuting evidence, it reminds me of the immigration "debate" and makes me feel that this is just people directing their hate toward non-Americans. That's about the last thing we need. It's not constructive. Welcome to the global economy. We're not the only kids in the sandbox. The sooner we learn that and start competing, instead of implementing this protectionist bullshit, the sooner we'll be in better shape.

It's a girl!

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 10:35 AM | comments: 2

Congratulations to Mike and Artemisa! Natalia Eliza Jandes was born this morning at 12:11 a.m., 7 lbs., 7oz.

The Bourne Matinee

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 27, 2007, 6:19 PM | comments: 1

I took a day off today, and it gives me tingly feelings. Some of the most relaxed and Zen-like times I've had were when I wasn't working. They've also been some of the worst, but that was before I learned to live without a day job. The summer of 2004, when I wrote my book, and the second half of 2005 when I coached and, well, did a whole lot of nothing, man those were some good times to get my head in order.

I had lunch with Diana, which had me driving around in the sun on a beautiful day. There aren't many things I can think of the convey feelings of freedom quite like this. Mind you, it only works on weekday mornings. :) I was happy to hear too that Diana was having a fairly quiet day, even at work.

After lunch I went to see The Bourne Ultimatum. I was reading about how the script changed day to day, and how that annoyed Matt Damon, but I was surprised to see the story did stick, and it really tied things together. Julia Stiles (the only other person to be in all three movies) finally got some decent screen time too, and had another crack at that sweet streaky hair she had in the second one. (Me = gay for hair.) Very entertaining flick.

After the movie, I decided there was some time wasting in my future, and that's what I'm doing now.

But it was another one of those days that got me to thinking... if I get some of the playing and messing around out of my system, what would I accomplish? In 2004 it was a book. What might it be next time?

Allergies, bad dreams and Vista

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 27, 2007, 12:24 AM | comments: 3

Something around Diana's house really kicked my ass this weekend in terms of allergies. I thought I was getting off easy this year, because I didn't have any problem at all in late May/early June, when I normally do. At first I thought maybe it was something in her house, like cat litter or perfume or fabric softener or whatever, but I also realized that when my allergies are bothering me, everything with a scent makes me sneeze. It really sucked, and I was miserable. Mind you, that's hard to to even bring up because she's allergic to her own cats!

Then I had a series of really horrible dreams pretty much all night long. Each one tapped into my biggest fears or issues. I had one involving pretty much all of my past relationships calling me out as a failure. One was about failing at work (not my current job, just in the general sense). Of course there was one where in a coaching situation I couldn't influence the kids. Even though they were just dreams, they really set my mood for the rest of the day, and that was not a good mood.

I'm not sure what brought that up, because God knows I've had some really good times lately, especially in terms of my social/romantic life. I think it's the part of me that just expects things to come crashing down when they're at their best. I don't know why we're wired to think that way. Of course, it could've been the large quantity of alcohol I had the night before too.

We went to play a little poker (no actual money) the night before at Diana's brother's house. I ended up in 4th place out of six, which I was content with because of the shitty cards I had and poor judgment after many beers.

While Diana admitted that the one thing that could break her general congeniality was road rage, she discovered that for me it was my intolerance for computers behaving badly. In this case, it was her Windows Vista laptop being a piece of shit about displaying photos, of all things. Can you believe it can't natively display raw format photos from my Canon 10D? This annoyed me and frustrated me to no end. Fortunately, things all worked pretty well getting tunes on to her new iPod Nano, because that's Apple software. :)

Lots of strange ups and downs this weekend, that's for sure!

We swapped...

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 25, 2007, 11:53 AM | comments: 1

Diana and I swapped... garage door openers.

How very Singles of us.

Follow up on Starscream (my MacBook Pro)

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 25, 2007, 12:14 AM | comments: 2

Yes, I decided to name my Macs after Transformers. Not surprisingly, my Mac Pro desktop is Optimus Prime.

Anyway, I found out what my options were or the laptop. Of course the guy at the Genius Bar couldn't bring the thing down, and there are no log entries about the random shut downs since, well, it can't log something when it's not on. He said it was possible of course to theorize that something on the logic board as not right, but it's just really hard to tell. So since it's out of warranty, basically they can send it in, and for a little over $300, they'll repair whatever they have to repair.

They still have to observe that something is wrong, or find it with test equipment. If I could get them to say, "Yes, we'll replace the logic board," I'd probably send it tomorrow. Since it just dies with or without a battery, I can't imagine it's anything else. I opted to hold on to it and just wait and see for awhile. If it gets worse, that makes sending it in a lot easier.

Meanwhile, Time-Warner is really fucking with my Internet connection. It dropped out completely earlier today, and now it's moving so slow that it's virtually useless. I'm not pleased. The guy I used to work for that is the liaison between the city and cable company suggested I call to see if they could update the firmware in my modem, as that has made a significant speed difference for some people.

The worst shut down

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 24, 2007, 12:39 PM | comments: 2

I started backing up my MacBook Pro, cloning the drive to USB, and I got the random shut down with about 4 gigs to go.

I think God may hate me.


posted by Jeff | Friday, August 24, 2007, 12:50 AM | comments: 0

I experienced a number of things at work today that really annoyed me. Taken individually, I suppose I would've just let all that crap roll off, but sometimes when it adds up you just throw your hands in the air and wonder WTF. I had one of those days.

Last night, when I got home from date night, there were thousands of ants at the foot of my driveway. It was the weirdest thing I've ever seen on concrete, save for thousands of mayflies at Cedar Point. I've had an ant problem on my kitchen floor too the last week or two. They seem to be coming from the middle of the house, which makes no sense. They're not ascending to anywhere there's food, but the bastards are crawling around my floor. So I put some ant baits down, which is supposed to lead them to take the poison back home. This morning there were probably a hundred of them in one corner, around the baits. That shit better work.

Then when I got home I tackled some client work. Truth be told, I don't like doing it, but it is a few billable hours. The problem is that I tend to offer "friend rates" for people way too often, so I'm probably selling myself short, literally. And of course, the changes to the client's app ended up not being simple.

Ironically enough, I decompressed in the hot tub, which was made possible by the day job and client work. Go figure. The sky was clear, and I saw the stars for the first time in probably a week, and suddenly I regained some perspective.

Then I went back to discontent when Cosmo decided to play the role of asshole and bit the shit out of my arm. Nice big bloody gashes all swollen up. She doesn't know how to play without harming people.

There is a part of me that feels that sometimes you just need to be a little angry, a little annoyed. If one wanted to get all philosophical, one might say you can't truly appreciate your happiness without the contrast of the opposite. If that's true, well, I'm going to be one happy guy tomorrow!

Taking in my MacBook Pro

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 23, 2007, 1:48 PM | comments: 6

My MacBook Pro has been, from time to time, doing random shut downs. At first I theorized it was a problem with the battery, but it did it at least once without the battery in. That screams some problem with the motherboard inside, which is a real bummer.

I finally got an appointment at the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store tomorrow, so I'll take it in and see what they say. It's out of warranty (that'll teach me not to buy the Apple Care), so if they need to do some kind of fix, it's gonna cost me.

It's just frustrating because I can't seem to find a pattern to it. The shut downs have happened a half dozen at a time, then it goes weeks without issue. If it were the battery, that would be easy at least. It's at 90% health and ~160 charge cycles. Still getting about 3.5 hours charge as long as the screen isn't at full brightness.

I'd like to get another year and a half out of it, for three years total. That's longer than previous laptops I've had. I've noticed a tendency to replace them every couple of years not because they stop working, but because laptops just get more and more capable every product cycle. I mean, already I look at the 17" MacBook Pro with the high resolution screen option and think, wow, that would be pretty sweet.

But I've also spent more time lately using my Mac Pro desktop. That thing is such a monster, with way more power than normal people really need. It laughs at video software and Photoshop, and runs Parallels better than any real Windows desktop I've ever had. It's a real joy to use (though I sure would like a 30" screen).

I don't know what to expect tomorrow, but I hope it's not an expensive fix.

Sorry, Match and Yahoo, you lose!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 23, 2007, 11:53 AM | comments: 8

Out of the blue, despite having de-listed myself on the dating sites, I got e-mail from both Yahoo and today, both of which were ineffective in the first place. (Actually, I did meet Cath on Yahoo, and we dated eight months, but she was the only person to respond.)

Here's what's funny though. Yahoo included three profile pictures, all of which I've seen probably a hundred times. Match sent a crazy low-ball offer to try to get me back in, at a rate of as little as $4.25 a month! That's pretty desperate.

eHarmony is the only one that paid off. I had a lot of dates and responses (though none of them were really "right" other than Diana, obviously). I have several theories about why that's the case. First of all, it's less popular, so there aren't a ton of people with stale and inactive profiles. They match people for you, so you aren't endlessly browsing. If someone is off the market, they generally turn their matching off. It costs more, so if you're not serious, you don't spend the money. And finally, their marketing angle is all about people meeting and getting married, which doesn't appeal to the get laid crowd. Oh, and it's 2 to 1 female, which works for dudes since the others are at least the opposite ratio or worse.

So I got a good deal around Valentine's Day for $60 for three months, and in March I was matched with Diana. We didn't meet until the end of May (she had family issues in Florida), but the system actually worked, and we're trying to be one of those annoying couples on the TV commercials.

I'm still surprised that dating sites aren't entirely free. I know there's a guy pulling down $20k+ a month doing a free site supported by Google ads, and it's the most terrible and hideous thing I've ever seen. But as I've learned with eHarmony, there is a certain benefit to having only paid members because there is more sincerity in terms of desire to meet someone.

High definition planet

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 4:14 PM | comments: 0

Last night, I felt like I saw my TV for the first time, despite having it for a year and a half.

I mentioned previously that I planned to buy the HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360. While the death match with the Blu-Ray format is far from over, I figured that the thing was cheap enough that it's not a huge mistake if HD DVD ends up not winning. One could argue that I'm still buying discs, but I can't imagine that some day the same players will do both anyway, just as they do with most any 5" disc type.

Anyway, people have raved about the Planet Earth series, which I think aired on Discovery HD Theater. It has the reputation for being some of the most spectacular motion photography of the planet ever captured. And you know what? It is.

I really feel like this series is the killer app for high definition video. If they were showing it on the TV's in the average Best Buy, they'd sell more of them. It's some of the most amazing imagery I've ever seen that wasn't live and in front of me. It's absolutely stunning.

The drive came with King Kong, which I already own on regular DVD, so I scanned through it a little to compare. No contest, the difference is dramatic. If anything, you appreciate some of the blue screen compositing errors in places, because the resolution is so good. It's amazing to see.

So while the HD DVD catalog isn't huge, it's growing, and this was pretty amazing stuff to see. Totally worth it.

Michael Bay takes back what he said about HD DVD

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 2:45 PM | comments: 5

Perhaps Mr. Spielberg called and told him to shut his trap...

Loved Transformers (and even The Island for that matter), but I this guy is completely full of shit.

I'll blog about my first experience with HD DVD soon though...


posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 10:51 AM | comments: 4

Inspired by Paula's post...

You know, "logistical" is frequently used incorrectly. "Logistics" generally refers to the process of moving stuff around, like trucks, trains and ships. Before UPS and FedEx, it was specifically used as a military term. So "logistical" actually means "having to do with logistics," which is not the right use of the word.

Most of the time, people mean "logical."

Sorry, pet peeve. :) I used to work for a group of magazines dealing in logistics.

No travel, power ups and shut downs

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 21, 2007, 11:21 PM | comments: 2

After carefully thinking about the trip to San Francisco, I think I've arrived at the conclusion that the trip would be about me being around "rock stars" and not about me learning something or networking. Even with relatively few people attending, it's not like I'm going to get to have lunch with a star and pick his brain. The truth is, I'm not sure what I'd get out of it aside from the vanity point that I "partied" with some of those cats. Not sure that's worth it. I'll decide by tomorrow. It could be worth it simply for the inspirational value.

I'm getting some joy out of playing Super Paper Mario. Like many Mario games before it, it offers progress and a sense of accomplishment. I like that. And the power ups where he gets giant and smashes shit is sweet. And to think I also have Super Mario Sunshine to play when I'm done!

My MacBook Pro is shutting down, seemingly at random. That sucks. Not only does it make it so not useful, but it interferes with my Apple fanboy status. How could something I praise be letting me down so much just four months out of warranty? How much will it cost to fix? Sigh, it's just a bummer.

My entrepreneurial Tuesday lunch routine

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 21, 2007, 5:37 PM | comments: 0

I've been going to lunch at the Winking Lizard solo on Tuesdays for a couple of weeks now. Tuesdays the chicken sandwiches are a couple of bucks off and new DVD's and games are released at Best Buy across the street. It works out.

I like the alone time, and Amy the bartender is always attentive (love smoke-free bars). I always bring a magazine too, usually Wired, and sometimes Business 2.0 on the rare occasion it has something worth reading. That reading material is interesting because it tends to cover people doing fascinating new things in business, on the Web and in technology in general. It's very inspiring.

Today I had a realization about the difference in my entrepreneurial spirit versus those I read about. They tend to find the next big thing and ruthlessly pursue it. I don't, because I don't care so much about the next big thing. I just want to do things I'm interested in, with the hope that it's something that is a sustainable business. That's unfortunately not so easy. I can't get behind something that I don't care about. I suppose that's why I've stayed with CoasterBuzz for so long, because I care about the topic. I just happen to insist I make a buck too, however limited those bucks may be.

I did see a pearl of wisdom though that I have managed to follow for CB, if not other things. Don't concentrate on your competition. Do what you do as best you can. You can control your own product, and if you stick to your own values and goals, that's well placed energy that you can control. If someone came along with a "CoasterBuzz killer," I can't control that. But I can stick to what has worked for me for seven years. See, I can justify not having updated it in three years. :) The only part I'm lacking on is the ability to evolve, and I'm slowly getting to a better place in that respect.

So I've got these other things I'd like to build, and if I can merge those interests with my everyday life, I'll pursue them. There is no shortage of ideas, and I continue to resolve to not get bogged down in resentment toward myself for not executing on them. Life is being too good to me in the general sense to do that.

Thinking of San Francisco again

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 21, 2007, 11:36 AM | comments: 5

Federated Media keeps sending e-mail reminding me about the conversational marketing conference in San Francisco, which is now three weeks away, and I keep thinking I really want to go do it. I think I could go for under $600 flight and hotel, and the conference is free, but I need to act quickly if I want to do it. There are only 300 people total attending, and it's quite the power list of speakers and panelists...

* Heather Armstrong; Founder, Dooce
* Jon Armstrong; Founder, Dooce
* Paul Beck; Senior Partner, Ogilvy
* Barak Berkowitz; CEO, Six Apart
* Jonah Bloom;; Editor, Ad Age
* Laura Desmond; CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group/The Americas
* Sarah Fay; CEO, Carat
* Shawn Gold; SVP Marketing & Content,
* Curt Hecht; EVP, Chief Digital Officer, Starcom MediaVest Group
* Carla Hendra; Co-CEO, Ogilvy North America
* Casey Jones; VP Marketing, Dell
* Patrick Keane; EVP, CMO, CBS Interactive
* Jeff Lanctot; Senior Vice President, Avenue A | Razorfish
* Jim Lanzone; CEO,
* David Lawee; Vice President, Marketing, Google
* Ross Levinsohn; Former President, Fox Interactive Media
* Daina Middleton; Dir, Global Interactive Marketing , Imaging and Printing Group, HP
* Jon Miller; Former Chairman & CEO, AOL Inc
* Markos Moulitsas; Publisher, Kos Media
* Kent Nichols; Writer, Performer, Beatbox Giant Productions
* Chris Peterson; CEO, Chautauqua Communications
* Suzie Reider; Head of Advertising Sales, Youtube
* James Rose; Vice President, Brand and Global Marketing Communications, Symantec
* Kevin Rose; Founder and Chief Architect, Digg
* Randall Rothenberg; President & CEO, Interactive Advertising Bureau
* Marc Ruxin; SVP, Director of Digital Strategy, McCANN Worldgroup
* Douglas Sarine; Writer, Performer, Beatbox Giant Productions
* Tina Sharkey; Chairman and Global President, BabyCenter, LLC
* Suhaila Suhimi-Waldner; East Coast Director, Digital, OMD
* Rishad Tobaccowala; CEO, Denuo
* Owen Van Natta; Chief Revenue Officer, Facebook
* Johnny Vulkan; Founder, Anomaly
* Jeff Weiner; EVP, Network Division, Yahoo!
* Michael Zimbalist; Vice President, Research & Development Operations, The New York Times Company

While it's a strange mix, that's a lot of brain power.

I'm so torn.

I switched to Google Reader

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 20, 2007, 9:30 PM | comments: 2

After years of using Bloglines, I switched to Google Reader for my feed reading frenzy, and I'll never look back. What a fantastic Web app.

I have to admit though, that one of the things that made it so easy was that Bloglines allowed you to export your feeds, even with the categorization, into an OPML file. That made it a snap to instantly start using Google Reader. It even puts little Flash audio players in the stories if you subscribe to a podcast. Very slick.

Transformers on HD DVD, pay TV and more HD

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 20, 2007, 5:16 PM | comments: 6

Well, the format war just got easier for me. Paramount and Dreamworks say they're no longer going to do Blu-Ray discs. That means that Transformers, when it comes out later this year, will be on HD DVD. As Engadget says, it's probably because the price of the players is coming down very quickly.

I was already leaning in that direction because of the fact that the HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 is down to $180. Even if the format doesn't survive, that's not a terribly expensive mistake.

While watching tennis over the weekend, Diana mentioned how crappy it looked. DirecTV has not been real strong ever in terms of quality, especially with the local channels. I remember that even on the "old" CRT TV, seeing compression noise in the picture. I know it wasn't the TV, because seeing it in Steph's apartment on digital cable, it looked fine. I've settled for a long time.

When I got the HDTV last year, I got a tuner card for my home-made DVR (using BeyondTV) to get over-the-air HD signals. Unfortunately, I'm kinda far away, apparently, even though I can see the transmitter antennae, to use a simple antenna in the window. I can only get FOX and ABC.

The DVR itself is a barrier to change. I mean, it's free. I built it three years ago now, and it still works like a champ. It talks by a serial cable to my DirecTV tuner. It tunes over-the-air signals. I'm not really missing anything, though I'm paying $50 a month for mediocre quality from DirecTV. Upgrading would cost $200 up front for a DirecTV HD DVR/receiver, plus another $20 a month, and my existing DVR would be taken out of service. There isn't much benefit there. And cable doesn't even have a DVR option.

I think the obvious solution is to have a better antenna, outside the house preferably, but there are apparently housing association rules against that. There's little doubt that I could pull in those over-the-air signals easily. So I guess I'm stuck.

I guess it doesn't matter that much, because I only really watch 24, House and Boston Legal, all in HD, from the air, free. I like Scrubs too, but I can't get in the NBC affiliate, so I record it from DirecTV. I guess I'm just starving for real HD content, especially movies. That player for the Xbox is probably the best path to that for now. It'd be nice if the iTunes store would start doing its movies in HD.

Why must you tease me, Canon?

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 20, 2007, 1:40 PM | comments: 0

Canon announced the new 40D SLR. It sure is sexy.

It really is true that no matter how much you think you have all of the toys you could possibly need, something new comes out. The 40D isn't really a giant leap above the 10D, though improved auto focus would be a plus. That's why I originally upgraded from the D60 way back in the day, but it has never been great. I honestly don't really need it though. I'm not shooting enough to justify it.

I still would like a better short-medium zoom lens though. That $90 piece of crap I have now is just not very pretty to look at compared to my big 70-200 f/4 L. I still really would like the 24-105mm f/4 L, which has exactly the range you can use probably 90% of the time that you aren't shooting stuff across a field.

Of course, your glass gets partially wasted in most of the consumer/hobbyist SLR's because of the field crop. In other words, the sensor only sees a portion of what the glass sees, so you don't get the whole picture. The 5D is the least expensive camera they make with a full-size image sensor, but it ain't cheap. They do have a kit though, that has both the 5D and the dreamy lens.

I really need some less expensive hobbies. And I need new carpet too.

The flexibility for change

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 20, 2007, 11:53 AM | comments: 1

I still am a firm believer that change for the sake of change is silly, but I do think that it's important to allow yourself the flexibility for change.

I was chatting with Stephanie last night about some of the things that I've been doing as of late, and she rightfully so called me out as never being even open to the idea of some of those things two or three years ago. I was rigid and had a hard time breaking out of my comfort zone.

I'm still not jumping out of airplanes, mind you (because I fear Darwin in that respect), but I do find myself really breaking into new or different things slowly. That's surprising I guess because people tend to get more set in their ways, not less, as time goes on.

I've experienced enough change in the next two years to last a lifetime, but I have a feeling I'll get a lot more of the same in the next two years. It feels positive, and I welcome it.

Capturing life's moments

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 20, 2007, 12:34 AM | comments: 1

I admit that I sort of rag on Tyler for posting things like, well, this. But the thing is, if you like photography, and if you like documenting life, it's really not quite that absurd. It's also not as narcissistic as one might be inclined to believe either. Just because you put it online doesn't mean it's for an audience.

Diana made the comment to me this weekend that I seem to always have a camera on me, even if it's just the one in my phone. And it's true, I really do like to have one with me as much as possible to catch whatever mundane detail I see. I have a very creative side to me, but I can't sing, play the guitar, paint, or draw. But I can make photographs, and I'm really proud of many of them.

Digital photography has made it so easy now. Last year I appear to have snapped about 1,279 keepers (according to iPhoto), and so far this year I have 658. With a lot of excitement on the calendar for this year, I think I'll beat last year's count. I'm trying to actually make it a point to collect even more bits, because zeros and ones are really inexpensive, and easy to throw away if I don't need them.

While iPhoto serves its purpose, by the way, I'm surprised at how useful I'm finding Adobe Bridge to be. The documentation kind of sucks, but it's pretty great at handling a collection of files. It's not quite Aperture, but still a very useful program, especially for viewing the metadata (which I think is in a floating window in iPhoto).

West Side Market and other adventures

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 19, 2007, 9:35 PM | comments: 4

So far, Diana and I have mostly managed to not have a boring weekend. We've actually spent time together for six straight weekends, which is very exciting, and admittedly a little scary. But in a good way. We don't really plan stuff out, and yet we end up doing cool things even when we plan to do nothing.

This weekend, we headed out to the West Side Market on Saturday morning. Even though I used to live just a few miles away from it, I can't remember going there since I was very young. It's really quite a treasure, and in a Wal-Mart world, a real thrill to see that such a place exists and thrives.

The inside of the building is pretty sweet, especially the brick ceiling. For something that was intended to be very much a utility kind of building, it's really quite stunning.

We were greeted by war protesters when we got there, which was a pleasant surprise. I didn't think anyone gave a shit anymore. Of course, given all of the urban alt crowd people and upper-middle class neo-hippie types there, I suspect they were kind of preaching to the choir.

You can find quite a few things there that you just can't get in your average chain store, and everything is super fresh. Meat, baked goods, produce, and even a place with all kinds of unique seasonings, rice, couscous, beans, etc. Hey, you can even find an entire pig (which is kinda gross)...

And of course, I'm dating a woman who really loves her cheese.

Since we were so close, I really wanted to swing by the old house. It's strange how I just don't feel particularly safe in that neighborhood anymore. Although like so many Cleveland neighborhoods, there are little pockets of well maintained houses and new businesses, with miscellaneous empty lots and not-so-well maintained houses in between. Anyway, I saw 3411 W. 47th Street once more. The place I lived for my first 14 and a half years, got robbed, played in the sandbox, climbed the apple tree and played Atari in the basement. Everything about the place seemed so different when I lived there.

Back in the 'burbs, later that day, we went to the regular grocery store to pick up a few things. We already picked up corn, curry couscous and saffron rice, and Diana got some raspberries as well at the market. I wanted to grill some pizzas (the woman loves cheese!), and I wanted some "safe" wine, so I got a bottle of White Zinfandel. Wine snobs hate it because it's popular and mass produced, but my Wine for Dummies book says to disregard the haters. It's a good summer wine, chilled. We both found it strange as we entered the grocery store, doing something so domestic.

Dinner was turkey burgers, and the curry couscous and corn from the market. This wasn't a well-balance meal per se, but it was very yummy.

The rest of the night involved hot tub action, The Big Lebowski and some deep discussions about growing up, family and our little neuroses. It's surprising that we have a lot of those in common!

Sunday, we finally did the nothing we were hoping for. It started with some sticky buns that Diana made. Damn those were good, and I wanted more, but my healthy side, however small it might be, resisted. I actually turned on the fire place because it was so damn cold. We eventually grilled those pizzas, watched a couple of episodes of On The Lot and some the mens final from the tennis tournament in Cincy that Diana was at earlier in the week. Her boy lost. We're going to that same venue for the AVP in a couple of weeks. Over the entire weekend, we did a fair amount of laptoping and knitting and other solo yet together stuff, and that demonstrated some ability to just "be."

I'm really enjoying the newness of this relationship. I know there's a "honeymoon phase" generally associated with this kind of thing, but I feel like we're creating a good foundation for things to come. We're both cautiously optimistic and at the same time, scared it's just all going to come to a screeching halt. Isn't it unfortunate that we're conditioned to have that mindset?

Next weekend, we have nothing planned, except Diana's brother is having a party we'll probably go to. Will we get through a weekend without adventure? Tune in next time... :)

Dick Cheney, when he was smart

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 17, 2007, 5:24 PM | comments: 2

I gotta tell you... if this was the guy who was in office today, I think it would be a very different world right now. Here Dick Cheney explains why invading Iraq would've been a really bad idea in 1994, and even explains the results if they did.

Video here

Some people, as you would expect, have stood up and said, "That was before 9/11," which I find really sad. It has been well established that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or terrorism in general.

It doesn't change anything really, and there isn't much we can do now, but it's still very fascinating.

Earned time off

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 17, 2007, 2:28 PM | comments: 3

I noticed today on my paycheck that I have over 90 hours now of time off to take. As much as I felt like I was cleaning myself out last year, it just keeps accumulating anyway. Good problem to have I suppose. There are guys who have over 300, and simply can't use it enough. You can only cash out like 160 hours if you leave.

Dare I say that I'm not sure I can really use a lot of these hours in the near future, just because I have stuff going on that I'm involved with at work. I hate that because it's me admitting that I care what goes on there.

But I do see a long weekend in the near future...

Cedar Point withdrawal

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 17, 2007, 10:19 AM | comments: 4

I never thought I'd say this, but I think I'm starting to have Cedar Point withdrawal. I haven't been since Independence Day. Generally speaking I don't like to go in July and August because it's too damn crowded, but I learned last summer that it's really not all that bad since there are so many rides. And I'm getting the shakes for Maverick too. I love that ride.

I'm planning on going three weeks from tomorrow, since there will be a new Minnesotan there, and I want to get a certain redhead a season pass for Halloweekends goodness. Tim keeps telling me I need to go on a weekday too during the last full week of operation, which is typically associated with very light crowds.

I can't wait for fall.

I love a good debate, but there's no black and white

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 16, 2007, 5:38 PM | comments: 11

There have been a lot of debates lately on CoasterBuzz about, well, I'm not even sure, except to say that there are two or three people who seem to take it as some personal attack when you criticize their favorite park. Then it degrades into a, "Well your park isn't this or that," or, "You're picking on me," whenever they feel they're losing ground in the debate. Sometimes my debate shortcuts are invoked too.

This got me to thinking about a bigger problem, in that everyone wants everything to be simple, or black and white. You're for or against the war, Republican or Democrat, pro-life or pro-choice, etc. It's like there's no wiggle room for complex issues to be, well, complex. You must be classified as one or the other, and that's that.

And honestly, who lives in that fantasy world? Life is such a gray area in almost every way.

I <3 John Stewart

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 16, 2007, 3:11 PM | comments: 0

Here's video of John Stewart calling out the Dick Cheney biographer, and it's absolutely wonderful.

Stewart says precisely what I feel in a way that I never could. Anyone who has questioned the war in Iraq has been belittled by the administration and those in support of it, suggesting we're all just ignorant children who don't get it, and furthermore are unpatriotic traitors for not rubber stamping it and going about our lives.

He has also made a lot of points at various times about how all of the fear-mongering propaganda has only made it worse, and I totally agree with that as well. It has all been a convenient distraction from our more serious problems. Americans kill each other at a far greater rate to this day than any terrorist has. Our schools are underfunded and ineffective. We're trashing our environment. We're not innovative in energy production.

It's funny how the movie Man of The Year seems like a realistic proposition.

Awesome teen Internet success story

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 16, 2007, 11:45 AM | comments: 0

Check this one out... this girl is in high school and making millions from a relatively simple idea,, executed quickly and efficiently.

What a great story. Good for her.

Track & Field

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 16, 2007, 11:32 AM | comments: 3

Gonch posted some recent photos, including a Track & Field video game machine. There's some button matching goodness.

It was just released last week on Xbox Live, by the way. I need to give that a whirl. I used to love that game!

Why am I not taking any micro-vacations?

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 16, 2007, 12:12 AM | comments: 0

I remember thinking early this year that I was going to take all kinds of little weekend trips to places I've not been. Well, here it is August and that hasn't panned out. I'm not saying that I'm disappointed, mind you, just that it's strange how the intention just got swept up and out of the way somehow. The year is still relatively young, and now I also have a travel buddy, potentially.

I did go to one new place, that being Minneapolis. That one really surprised me because I liked it so much and had a good time. I've also got two trips to Orlando, a couple of Columbus overnights and Hershey, but those are all places I've been.

I could go to that conference in San Francisco, but the timing just sucks. I've wanted to go there for quite awhile now, and with my recent fascination with wine, it's even higher on the list. I'd like to visit Seattle, maybe Portland again. Boulder and Denver, to see Stephanie's view. The Grand Canyon.

I've already got some of the routine stuff on the calendar for the fall, including the events at Holiday World and Cedar Point. IAAPA is coming in November. Diana said something about sticking around so I might see Italy next year. That sure would be an adventure. After that, Japan and Australia couldn't be far behind.

Time to work that camera with things I've never seen before.

Facebook on iPhone... wow!

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 1:06 PM | comments: 2

Leave it to the cats at Facebook to deliver a very nice iPhone experience. Given the site's media-centric approach of photos and other nonsense, it's a great fit to the iPhone, which is all about photos and other nonsense!

You login and get the feed just as you would normally. I see that Skydiving Jeff has uploaded pictures from Busch Gardens, so I check them out. And amazingly enough, the photo gallery works almost as well as the onboard photo app, only with captions. It even rotates and expands the pictures when you rotate the phone! Well done. Very well done.

Also sweet, it'll now allow me to send photos by way of e-mail from the iPhone, in the absence of MMS functionality on the phone.

iPod play counts: Top 20

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 1:36 AM | comments: 1

iTunes counts how many times you listen to songs. You can even sort your library that way. So I decided to see what my biggest songs were.

The only thing that throws off the count is that I don't think my old 3rd generation iPod (the white one with no clicking buttons on the front, circa 2003) does the counting, and it gets the most action because it's in my car. My newer iPod with video from 2005 does count I'm sure, and that one is mostly in my bedroom. That's maybe a playlist a night. Naturally the newer Apple TV and iTunes itself does count, as does the iPhone. The point is that there's a bias toward stuff in the last two years or so. So here's the count:

185 - Shine, Tracy Bonham (not surprisingly given it's my favorite song of all time)
171 - Up To The Roof, Blue Man Group (with Tracy)
163 - I Have to Save The World, Venus Hum
159 - Naked, Tracy Bonham
159 - Edge of the Ocean, Ivy
148 - Daylight Robbery, Imogen Heap
147 - Everything (Between Us), Liz Phair
139 - Chant Jam, Blue Man Group
137 - Silent Movie, Natasha Bedingfield
133 - I Feel Love, Blue Man Group and Venus Hum
129 - Have You Got It In You?, Imogen Heap
129 - Just a Ride, Jem
126 - Typical, Mute Math
123 - White Flag, Dido
122 - Time to Go, Cirque du Soleil: Delirium
119 - Sojourn, Natasha Bedingfield
118 - PVC IV, Blue Man Group
113 - Goodnight and Go, Imogen Heap
105 - See the Sun (live), Dido
105 - Headlock, Imogen Heap

I'm glad they kept talking

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 14, 2007, 9:37 PM | comments: 1

I finally got around to seeing Shut Up & Sing, the documentary about the Dixie Chicks after the singer made some anti-Bush comments just before the Iraq war started. Not a fan of that music really, though I do think they're all very talented (and I'm a sucker for a woman with any string instrument).

First off, I really liked the movie and the persistence of the group through all of the controversy. Even better, they managed to beat the industry I once loved, radio, and showed that you can sell records without them. I particularly loved the scene where Sen. John McCain starts blasting a record exec in an ownership limits hearing. (Lifting ownership limits of radio, a practice long and rightfully justified by the scarcity of radio bandwidth and a need to preserve local needs served by radio, was the biggest mistake ever made and the thing that killed commercial radio.)

What I found frightening is just how much Americans turned off their brains in 2003. 9/11 instilled so much fear and hate in people that it became unpatriotic to question the actions of your own country, ironically one of the most fundamental values the United States was founded on in the first place. The terrorists got what they wanted in that respect, and we played right into it.

The optimist in me would like to think that at least in politics there is potential for more open discussion on real issues. I'm hoping that the YouTube generation is watching and thinking. The next presidential election could be a real spark for hope, or it could be politics as usual and the disenchanted could care even less. I would like to have a real, bona fide choice next time instead of having to pick between people I dislike, one less than the other. I guess we'll soon find out.

Jacket weather

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 14, 2007, 5:03 PM | comments: 0

I think I make this post every year, but I can't wait for jacket weather. I'm sitting here at work wearing my pullover because the AC is on too damn high and it's only in the mid-70's outside. I'm also listening to Tracy Bonham, which was a fall album last year (and still every bit as good).

We've been lucky this summer. Aside from a handful of humid days, it never really got hot, and it looks like the next week will be cool again, with even cooler nights. Thank God for that, because maybe I can start using the hot tub more regularly again. I've been skipping on it here and there because of the heat.

I love fall. Bring it!

Passion vs. Motivation

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 14, 2007, 3:48 PM | comments: 2

I was thinking earlier today about my speaking engagement this fall at IAAPA, and how long I want to stay, and what I want to do in terms of covering the show. I haven't covered the show in earnest for CoasterBuzz for a couple of years. The last time was more to keep in touch with people than it was for any real journalistic intent.

I've made countless comments over the last few years about how I wasn't motivated to improve and rewrite the site, but when I really think hard about it, it's not an issue of motivation, but rather passion.

Back in 2000, I was very passionate about CoasterBuzz. Guide to The Point (now PointBuzz) had taken off in two years, I was working in an exciting dotcom segment of a big media company and I thought that Millennium Force was second only to sex as far as physical pleasure goes. I spun up that site and its traffic very, very quickly. Using various metrics, it became arguably one of the most visited coaster sites on the Net, and I was hell bent on keeping it that way. And hey, I was making a little money too. A four-digit monthly income, in fact, in the first year.

Seven years later, I don't care so much how it ranks in terms of traffic as much as I care that it still provides entertainment value for me, and continues to generate revenue. The passion has waned. I figure that's the real reason I'm so slow in rebuilding it. There are so many other things in my life that are more important now.

It's not that I don't care anymore, because it will get rebuilt. I actually find myself more interested in working with Walt to improve PointBuzz these days, which will reach an amazing ten year anniversary next year. I'm not even sure how many millions of visits that site has logged at this point. Even though I've assumed more of a code monkey role and less of a content generation role, I'm still very proud of what it has become.

I do have passion for starting something new, I just don't know what. The truth is that I have different criteria for success now, much of it financial, and I know that I can't simply beat others to market with something fresh the way I did for CoasterBuzz in 2000. It's a different world now. As much as I find it OK to fail at certain things in life, I'd rather not.

It's easy to look at that and say, "Well, it sounds like you're too focused on the dollar." That's a fair thing to say, but part of what makes it fun now is the almost absurd notion that I can make money doing something I like. That's a bit of a game itself, and without it, I wouldn't be traveling or buying iPhones or whatever. If you would've asked me if I'd ever have a Universal pass and go there several times a year back in 2000, I would've told you that was crazy talk.

What I lack is the vision of people making really useful stuff on the Web these days. I still think in some cases it's just people who got lucky, but it's really hard to fill a need that isn't currently being addressed. My focus on niche markets yields the same ideas of community over and over, and the Web is saturated with those ideas already.

Right now my passions are for trying wine, cooking, playing with the Wii, reading for pleasure, star gazing from the hot tub, and of course, a very sweet redhead I met a couple of months ago. I need a break from the Internet (really hard when you work for a dotcom).

Memories: Old Grant Street

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 14, 2007, 10:31 AM | comments: 0

My AT&T bill

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 13, 2007, 5:03 PM | comments: 6

Inspired by Ars.

EDIT: This girl has 300 pages!

Signs that the movie Idiocracy is coming true

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 13, 2007, 3:53 PM | comments: 0

The movie Idiocracy was average at best, but what I find frightening is the idea that it could be coming true. Here's a guy who argues that it is, with evidence!

Icky PHP code from Facebook

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 13, 2007, 2:40 PM | comments: 1

While I certainly realize that ugly code can be written in any language on any platform, the found PHP code from Facebook is exceptionally gross. I can't even imagine looking at code and having to face that.

Back in the swing, perhaps

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 13, 2007, 2:02 PM | comments: 0

I talked to a volleyball club director today. I might just be teaching that swing offense again this winter.

I admit that I missed it this year, but I was really burned out from the year before, and frankly I was a little lost the first couple of months of the year anyway. But something that Kara said to me stuck with me: "That's bullshit, coaching is a huge part of who you are." As the only friend (except for Stephanie) who has ever seen me in action, with two different teams no less, she's right.

So I'm being cautiously optimistic. You never know what you're going to get, but it's one of the few things that I can honestly say gives my life incalculable meaning.

Life has taken some very unexpected positive turns the last few months.

Glass and aluminum goodness

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 13, 2007, 12:47 PM | comments: 5

The truth of weight loss

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 13, 2007, 11:43 AM | comments: 1

Wow, this is some very true stuff here if you've ever struggled to lose weight...

Monday buzz kill, weekend recap

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 13, 2007, 10:56 AM | comments: 0

Wow, what a drag it is to come in to work after having a great weekend of general screwing around and non-productivity! As much as I'd love to pin it to my usual rather-be-working-for-myself rant (which is getting really old), I'd just in the general sense rather not be here today. We're in a lull and I'm doing uninteresting work. I'd rather be doing anything else.

We had a rough plan for the weekend as far as going to two events for Diana's niece's birthday, but that was the extent to which we planned anything. Saturday morning we thought we'd go to Tommy's in Conventry, but instead decided to go to the zoo. She lives all of two miles from it, and I do love my zoo.

To satisfy the breakfast requirement we went to this little greasy spoon place called Gus'. It wasn't terrible. Reminded me of the place I worked in college, and also the little place on Mackinac (only at one-fifth the prices). While the food was nothing to get excited about, it gives me warm fuzzies that places like this still survive in a McDonald's world.

I covered the zoo with about a hundred photos, and I know that I've shot the same stuff before countless times, but I guess that's what makes it a great opportunity. You can see what you're doing right or wrong that way. As I mentioned, too slow of a shutter too frequently when zoomed in. I gotta stop doing that.

Sunday, the niece had a surprise bear building party. Seven-year-old girls just eat that up. It was pretty cool though, I have to admit. I'd totally do that for my own kid.

I can now be completely certain that I hate Windows. Diana bought a Dell laptop earlier this year and I was frustrated because it was so slow. The first problem is that it only had 512 MB of RAM. Dell should be ashamed of themselves for selling a Vista laptop less than a gig. Then add in all of the crapwear (like the Symantec crap), and it literally took almost ten minutes before you could do anything useful with the computer. It was completely intolerable. But I turned off a bunch of non-useful stuff and uninstalled the Symantec crap, and it got significantly better. Diana ordered RAM, and I think it'll be speedy and sweet by the end of the week.

I've gotta tell you, we sure have a good time together. We have very similar qualities in areas that could cause mutual annoyance, like our tolerance for filth and disorganization. We communicate very openly and honestly. Even with different interests and hobbies, it just generally works. I'm a pretty lucky guy. It's about time eHarmony came through for me. :)

Photos at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 13, 2007, 12:31 AM | comments: 4

I do love going to zoos, and taking pictures of critters. However, I'm still shooting like a moron with the zoom, and allowing for a slow shutter speed when I'm zoomed in, unsupported and unsteady. I end up ditching way too many photos because of that, and I know better going back 16 years to high school yearbook! A lot of good it does having nice glass when you're making stupid mistakes like that.

Still, there are a few that I really like. For example, who doesn't love otters?

For being one of the fastest animals on land, they sure don't move fast on a hot and humid day.

This eagle was sitting in shadow, but I cranked up the ISO to 400 and cropped it. You're looking at native resolution there, which is why there's a fair amount of noise in the photo.

I think back in 2005 I mentioned my fascination with the Fulton Road Bridge. Well it finally came down a couple of months ago, and there are still a few remnants of it at the south end. Pretty crazy that this landmark is totally gone. The zoo actually feels different without it.

And finally, I captured a quick portrait of Diana, happy to be sporting shorter hair.

Ignoring markets

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 10, 2007, 2:54 PM | comments: 1

This editorial on why Apple "ignores" the enterprise market is easily one of the most misunderstood concepts in business today.

It really hinges on many of the previous conversations we've had here on Campusfish about size and scale. Not only is bigger not always better, bigger can lead you astray in business to places you don't want to go. Technology companies in particular want to be everything to everyone it seems, which is a really stupid goal.

I used to beat myself up over whether or not something I was involved in was the biggest, or number one, or "best" by some arbitrary metric. I too went through an idealistic phase where I wanted to rule the world or come up with the next great thing.

I'm not sure why so many people view this as defeat or a fear of risk. If you can create something that serves a specific, yet small market, and do it well, why not? Mind you, that's not Apple, since the consumer space for them has been more lucrative on a per-unit basis than the commoditized "enterprise" market, but still. The Apples, 37signals and Mustard Seed Markets of the world provide great products on a more limited scale than related companies, but what they deliver is infinitely more valuable to the markets they serve. And the truth is, the business owners are doing more than OK as well.

Sometimes, you have to be mercilessly focused on the smaller picture to be a part of the big picture.

On mentoring

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 10, 2007, 1:59 PM | comments: 1

At lunch today I read the Wired story about Jim Gray, a well respected computer scientist who deserves a lot of credit for laying the foundation for many of the data systems we use today. He disappeared at sea without a trace, and the tech community that loved him couldn't find him.

There was one quote from him that I really identified with.

Asked which of his achievements made him most proud, Gray once said, "The people that I've mentored."

Wow does that stick with me. When I really look hard at my life, most of the success, career, financial, relationships, etc., comes second to even the smallest examples of where I made a difference. When I get sentimental about life so far, few things give my life definition the way that mentoring relationships have.

Enabling the success of others is a very powerful thing. It's mostly a thankless job, but the pleasure you get from it comes in the satisfaction of knowing the impact you had. For me at least, a lot of it has come from coaching volleyball. Sure I've gushed before about Caity, but even some of the bigger picture things brought me a lot of satisfaction. Five of the eight girls on Caity's team made college teams. My Elms team went from D4 average to competitive and advanced. Those were amazing times for me. It doesn't matter if anyone else sees it, because I do, and it makes me smile. No one can ever take that from me.

I experienced similar feelings of satisfaction with the publication of my book. It never did sell very well (though we'll see what happens now that it has been translated to Chinese), but the few random e-mail messages I received showed that it helped people. The scale is unimportant.

A lot of friendships have been mentoring relationships for me as well. I look at those as an obligation in many ways, because I was on the receiving end of those friendships early in my post-high school life. A number of key people believed in my abilities and intelligence, and treated me like I would do great things in life. How strange it is that I've had the opportunity to do the same for others, when some days I don't think I have it figured out myself.

Some people contribute money to better the world. Others contribute their time. Still others do the most noble of things, and raise children ("small versions of adults"). I truly believe that these are the things that give us the most fulfillment in life. As shitty as the world can be, I still believe that this quality is something in all people, and it's probably the last thing that gives me hope for a better future.

A serious iPhone battery zap

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 9, 2007, 3:44 PM | comments: 3

I'm not one to drive my car to see how far I can really go after the feed me light comes on, but I did that with my iPhone. So for the first time, I've got a better picture of what it takes to really zap the battery.

Total stats on a full charge:

  • 12 hours "usage" (which in this case includes about 70 minutes of video and 10 hours of iPod music)
  • 2 days, 6 hours of standby
  • 45 minutes of talk time
  • 12 MB of EDGE data transfer

All things considered, that a busy two and a half days I think for the phone. Color me impressed. I've gone three days with no charging and still 1/3 on the battery meter, and less iPod use, but I didn't tempt fate in those cases. My cheap ass Samsung phone, even when new, basically did about two days with a moderate amount of calling and texting.

All this, and Apple says the battery should still do about 80% capacity after 400 "full" charge cycles. To me that says the battery will last as long as I have the phone, probably two to three years (unless, or I should say when, they make one that's more kick ass). The bottom line is that battery life is what it should be in the real world.

Discover this!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 9, 2007, 3:22 PM | comments: 4

You don't see this kind of thing in full uncut form on Discovery. Some real circle of life shit, and it doesn't end how you think...

MySpace is such a piece of shit

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 9, 2007, 10:08 AM | comments: 6

Does anyone ever wonder how it is that MySpace became anything even remotely popular? If you take for a moment that it has the most hideous and annoying pages ever, worse than those from the GeoCities days, the UI is ridiculously useless.

For example, try to login with the wrong password. It says, "YOU MUST BE LOGGED IN TO DO THAT!" I must be logged in to login with the wrong password?

You can also go in circles, endless loops even when getting around. I think this is secretly to keep grown ups out while little Suzy tries her hardest to see pictures of that cute boy who wants nothing more than to bone her by making her a friend on the site.

I've realized that the fundamental difference between MySpace and Facebook is that MySpace is for narcissistic attention whores, while Facebook, for most people, is used more to keep in touch with people. That's what I like about it, in that no one other than who you choose can see anything. I'm sure there are still people who have a thousand friends just so they can say they have a thousand friends, but I still reject requests almost every day from people I don't know.

MySpace suX0rz teh big one!!!!!1111

Combining two great things

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 8, 2007, 5:27 PM | comments: 3

Date night and Chipotle. :)

(Sorry, "fragile" will have to be something for another day.)

Write something

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 8, 2007, 2:22 PM | comments: 3

I feel like I have something to write, but I just don't know what it is.

Lightning in my back yard

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 7, 2007, 11:04 PM | comments: 7

Taken moments ago from my back window...

Brown out

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 7, 2007, 11:43 AM | comments: 0

We just had a massive brown out here at work, and we're all on batteries now. It was sweet. Real disaster movie kind of light flickering and such. Looks like our network is still up (which I'd hope so seeing as how we need it to be on the air).

I hope where ever I go for lunch has power. Yeah, thinking with my stomach.

Wacky Wednesdays

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 7, 2007, 11:29 AM | comments: 4

OK, so normally I don't like to blog about really personal relationship stuff when I'm not single, but I think this topic is pretty harmless. Diana and I have, without realizing it, settled into a cycle of Wednesday night dates, for a month straight. It started as a mid-week break for her because of her ridiculous teaching weeks at Da Bank, and before we knew it, it became a... routine.

Now I'm not suggesting that routine means boring. We've done something different each time. But we've also done nothing. I think that's an interesting point, where you can get together and actually just relax without the pressure of having to keep busy. There's a level of comfort and familiarity you need for something like that. We keep thinking that it has all come so fast, but when we look at the calendar, or when we first had contact on eHarmony, we've been in touch a very long time.

I'm a lucky guy, too, because this girl can cook! She has mad skills when it comes to her kitchen. She's also sensitive to my beef-free lifestyle, and manages to find ways to make things I'm not crazy about in a way that I can be fond of them. It's pretty awesome.

So yeah, I'm gushing a little, but she really makes the work week seem shorter. It's a very good routine.

As if I could resist that piece of Japanese goodness

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 7, 2007, 11:15 AM | comments: 2

Yeah, I plugged in the Wii last night. As if I could have a new electronic gadget sitting in my house unopened. I'm surprised I held out long enough to get the podcast posted.

I screwed around with the Wii Sports. That's fun. Played a couple of Super Paper Mario levels too. Very classic style game, but would be a lot better if you didn't have to sit through the Engrish cut scenes.

The shop was down for maintenance, so I didn't get to see what classic games were available, so I look forward to checking that out. Sweet that it plays my Gamecube games too. I'm going to see if I can find WarioWare, especially since my copy of the DS version is somewhere in Minnesota on "loan."

Neat little box though, and I can't believe that Nintendo is basically getting away with selling six-year-old hardware with novel controllers, making a profit on hardware sales (unheard of in the last 15 years of consoles), and taking the number one place in sales. Just goes to show that it's still the games that matter most.

What is my Wiiward for?

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 6, 2007, 2:18 PM | comments: 2

OK, so I finally found a Nintendo Wii, and I promptly bought it. The question is, do I open it?

There are many goals that I have right now that could be hampered by the Wii (assuming of course that I like it as much as I think I will). At the top of that list is three Web site projects, including CoasterBuzz, PointBuzz and a third I've not disclosed because it's more of a fuzzy idea than anything else.

I've also got that screenplay junk that of course I talk about all of the time but never act on. I don't feel quite as bad as that because I assume that I'm just going to suddenly have the inspiration and do it, much the way I did my 2004 screenplay that I'd never try to make into a movie.

I think that maybe getting one of the sites, preferably CB as it's getting really crusty, to at least a functional QA build would be a nice goal. If I really got into a heads down mode and went for it, I think I could do it in a couple of weeks.

In any case, you can bet that what I really look forward to is all of the old school stuff you can get for the Wii. Yeah, you can get the emulators and ROM's and such for your computer, but it's just not the same as playing it on a console on your TV. I mean, the short-attention-span games like Zuma and Ms. Pac-Man are still what I play most on the Xbox 360.

Finally... score!

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 6, 2007, 1:26 PM | comments: 1

Cheese with that wine

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 6, 2007, 12:19 AM | comments: 0

Diana and I went to Vintage Ohio yesterday for a little wine tasting action. Basically it's a collection of Ohio wineries all in one place with little tents to try out their stuff.

For $18, you get a glass and a little score card with 72 squares on it. Each time you get a pour, they mark off a square. Four or five pours is probably a glass by my standards. I ended up getting seven or eight, and I think Diana may have had around 12. I was driving, so I didn't want to go nuts. Besides, the lines started to get long by mid-afternoon, and that wasn't as fun.

Not very many wines really jumped out at me. The non-chilled varieties were actually downright warm because it was around 80 degrees, so they were a good ten degrees warmer than normal. I tend to think of myself as more of a dry kind of guy, but some of the sweeter varieties were good too. I haven't learned enough about it yet, but I'm not sure that Ohio has the right soil to grow the right grapes that make gee-whiz wine. I guess I'm still trying to figure out what I really like after years of sipping from an adult juice box.

They had some Ohio cheese vendors there too, and I gotta tell you, that's something I can get into. I've learned that I'm dating a cheese freak too. The way to her heart is not flowers, but cheese. That works, because I appreciate cheese a lot more than flowers.

So this afternoon, we had cheese fries at Outback. Not exactly gourmet, but it'll do. :)

Church is closed

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 4, 2007, 3:53 PM | comments: 1

I finally get to see Misty and Kerri!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 2, 2007, 10:24 PM | comments: 1

After putting it off for years, I finally bought tickets for an AVP tournament. This one is at the tennis venue across I-71 from Kings Island. Finally, while they're still playing together, I'll get to see Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Olympic gold medal winners.

It's almost unfortunate that, since the end of the last summer Olympics, that those two winning has become almost routine now and they don't get the press they did before. It's frustrating because pro beach volleyball doesn't get a ton of TV time, and it just isn't that popular. I don't understand why. I mean, cut dudes and tall women in tiny swim wear... there's something for everyone, even if the game wasn't that interesting.

I still prefer the indoor game. The indoor game is much more strategic, a lot faster, and the defense is reaching a new level the last few years in college and international play. It's really fun to watch.

Web is hanging out where the puck has been

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 2, 2007, 2:48 PM | comments: 0

I was listening to This Week In Tech this morning, as they were talking about various services and Web sites they use. It occurred to me that, while many of these sites are very fascinating, most are me-too at best, or worthless at worst.

Certainly you're familiar with Wayne Gretzky once saying that he skates to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. (I can't prove that, but I'm sure it's online somewhere.) Well, so much of what makes headlines out there has been done many times over. Everyone wants to have social networking now. Sorry, but unless Facebook makes some colossal mistake, you're too late. The party is over. All of this link sharing and super high tech community junk is neat, but how much do you need?

The problem is that everyone wants to create the next thing that is everything to everyone. Aside from building something you can sell to Google or Microsoft, why the hell would you want to do that? More to the point, why are VC's giving you money? I'll never quite understand it.

I run niche community sites. They've served their audiences well since before the first dotcom bust, and frankly haven't even had to evolve that much (which bothers me, but apparently bothers others less). There is still something to be said for a small community. It's one thing to go out for attention whoring and saying you have a million friends, but what value is that to people?

I guess the point of this post is simply that even as someone who loves Web technology, so much of what is being put out there is just pointless and without a market. At least people seem to have stopped using the term "mash up."

Morgan Webb makes her 2.0 move

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 2, 2007, 1:51 PM | comments: 3

I got e-mail from Federated Media about a new site they're working with: WebbAlert. As in Morgan Webb. She's doing a mostly daily five-minute video wrap up of tech news. You could argue that it would be successful just because she's so ridiculously charming, but honestly, she has always been the real deal, and a real geek at heart.

I remember when she started as the pixie-like line producer on the TechTV show The Screen Savers, which I pretty much watched every single day. Over time they gave her more and more to do, and given her interest in video games, eventually put her on X-Play. That ended up being the only show that survived the acquisition and merge by Comcast to G4, and not surprisingly, the only show even remotely watchable on that awful network.

It says a lot about how Comcast threw away something special, as Kevin Rose went on to do Digg, Revision3 and now Pownce. Leo Laporte is the king of tech podcasts. Patrick Norton went on to do for Ziff Davis. The point is that much of the talent of that former TV network has managed to lay the foundation for a great deal of the Web stuff we love, even if it can't be characterized as truly mainstream (yet). It's inspiring.

Men are not dick-driven porn addicts

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 1, 2007, 5:06 PM | comments: 1

I saw on Digg a link to a NY Magazine piece on how porn makes men less interested in human sex. What a load of crap that is.

First off, the tone suggests that men are all driven by their penis and don't recognize the value of women. I can't think of a more stupid generalization you could ever make. I mean, the suggestion that porn sets an expectation that women can't ever meet is completely insane to me. I realize there is such a thing as porn addicts, but come on! What guy in a healthy sexual relationship would rather have the porn?

The other thing that bothers me is that it suggests men are solely responsible for the condition of a sexual relationship. That's not a very feminist angle. Let's face it, sexual attraction in the long term has almost nothing to do with physical appearance. It's all about the emotional intimacy and personality of a partner that really makes you want to jump all over them. "Hotness" still remains mostly mental. There's no other way to explain Michael Douglass and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The attack on porn is not what bothered me about that piece, it's the suggestion that it's the cause of sexual dysfunction, and that it's all the fault of men. If the Internet has caused any problem in interpersonal relationships, it's not the porn, it's the impersonal way that it connects people, without context.

Keeping up with the Smiths

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 1, 2007, 12:49 AM | comments: 5

If you know me, you know I'm a big Kevin Smith fan. While Mallrats was crap, I think that the rest of his movies have been quite excellent, even if they weren't necessarily giant hits that everyone loves. Yeah, I even liked Jersey Girl.

He's been doing a podcast now for a couple of months, which he calls SModcast, as in Smith and Mosier, Scott Mosier, the guy who has produced all of his flicks. They talk about Hollywood nonsense a little, films from time to time, and a lot about whatever else they feel like talking about. Sometimes you hear interesting things about actors they've worked with, or Jason Mewes' drug and alcohol problems, or whatever, but a lot of the time it's about things like their dogs having sex.

What I've learned from listening to the show is that the guy has a lot of issues, but he's up front about most of them. Some are totally irrational too, like fear of the ocean because of shark attacks. I'm not sure if I like him more or less because of those things. His weight issues bother me the most. It's not that I'm judgmental toward him for it, as much as I fear he's a heart attack waiting to happen, and I selfishly want him to stay alive so he can keep making movies I like. :)

In show #20, he had his wife Jen on for the first time (I'm a couple of weeks behind). I was immediately intrigued, because every time he brings her up he paints a picture of them being total opposites. And it's not just the short-and-fat versus tall-and-skinny (his words), they just don't seem to agree on anything.

But during the course of the show, they both just gush over how they love each other (the fact that they "make love" 2% of the time and "fuck" the rest of the time is probably a detail I could live without). He respected her for being a USA Today reporter in her 20's, and she respected him for being a great story teller and film maker.

Toward the end though, she sums it up pretty well when he asks her if she's just a chubby chaser. To paraphrase, she says she loves him for who he is and will not criticize him for it (the weight thing in particular), because it would give fuel to create a circle of resentment and dislike.

I thought that just about summed up the one thing that anyone needs in that kind of relationship. Here are two people with so little in common, but it works because they're OK with who the other person is, period. That's beautiful.