Google Spreadsheet and the top 100 checklist

March 18, 2007

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

Google released their "Apps" to beta recently. After playing around with them a little it seems like they are making good progress. I'm in a very poor position to rate them however since I very rarely use Word or Excel or the like. It's one of the funny little paradoxes about a lot of tech geeks. We tend to have way more knowledge about just about every aspect of computing, but we can't figure out anything beyond the most basic parts of some of the most use software. I still haven't figured out how to complete turn off all the damn "Auto Formatting" that Word does because it thinks I want it. Anyway, one of the first spreadsheets I've done is a check list of the top 100 movies on the AFI list. It's mainly for me, but I'm posting it here. It's also in the newly created "Links" category over to the side. It seems that I'm committing more and more of the data of my life to the trust of google. Here's hoping they keep their "Do no Evil" motto.


E-Trade Savings and Online banking

March 16, 2007

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

E-Trade has recently started offering a great saving account that they call "Complete Savings". It's your basic bank savings account except for the fact that they are offering roughly 5% Interest. They have a list of their rates here. All the savings accounts I've had before at traditional banks have had less than 1% interest. For example, I have a Wachovia savings account and their interest rate for balance (like mine) less than $10,000 is 0.2% The E-Trade Complete Savings has no minimum and you can start the account with as little as one dollar. Taking the compounding out of it for now, let's say you put $1,000 in the E-Trade account and $1,000 in a Wachovia type account. After one year The E-Trade account would have made $50 compared to $2 from the competition. To use E-Trade of course, you have to be comfortable with Online Banking. Personally, I don't have a problem with it. In fact, I've been using E-Trade since about 2000 (if memory serves). In fact, I use them as my primary bank these days. In regards to the Wachovia account I mentioned earlier, I still keep that one open cause every now and then, I want to be able to walk into a branch. Also, I use Wachovia for my ATM since they are right across the street from me. This way I avoid racking up ATM fees.


R60

March 16, 2007

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

We just got new laptops at work. This model is a ThinkPad R60. It's not a super fast machine by todays standards, but it's really very impressive. I'm going through the process of getting all my apps installed and it got me to thinking about exactly how amazing these things are, especially when connected to the internet. Even more so when you do that on a wireless network. Once again I say, things have come a long way since Mr. Gutenberg started moving his type around.


Notepad ++

March 16, 2007

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

Another fine piece of open source (read free) software: Notepad ++ I found this one via the afore mentioned osalt.com while looking for a replacement for UltraEdit. Both applications are plain text editors. In the past UltraEdit was the main program that I used to do my programming. Even though these programs only edit text files, they do a whole lot for programmers. Things like syntax highlighting and auto complete make it much easier to deal with the files. Notepad ++ like UltraEdit is windows only. If you are on windows and you need a good, free text editor, I'd give it a try.


Black and white conversion

March 16, 2007

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

The ability to easily convert from color to black and white is one of my favorite things about digital photography. Most of the time when I used to shoot film it would be black and white. Part of this was because it was less expensive, but i also just liked it better. Using photoshop, I was never really happy with just converting to grayscale to make an image black and white. It always looked flat to me. Back about photoshop 3 or 4, I discovered that you could use the "Channels" of the color image to pull a black and white image from the color and get better results. I especially liked the red channel which had a tendency to look a lot like infrared. These days I use a channel mixer adjustment layer to do my conversions. After setting the channel mixer to "Monochrome" by marking the checkbox at the bottom, I set the following: Red: 70% Green: 15% Blue: 15% This makes a balance of the skin tones that I like a lot. If the specific image has a lot of green or blue in it you might have to tweak it some, but it's a good base level to start with. The last thing I do is make a curves adjustment layer and bring up the midtones just a little. Say something like an Input of "75" and and output of "85" to add just a little more punch to it. If you haven't played with the channel mixer before to do black and white conversions, give it a try.


Another reason not to shop at Best Buy

March 16, 2007

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

This came out a while ago. But it turns out that Best Buy has two versions of their website. A public one and one that is only available in stores. Seems that they advertise prices on their public website, but they have them at full price on the internal one. Here is a short blurb on it. I haven't shopped at Best Buy in a long time. This internal web site is another example of unethical business practices. I've got no problems with a company going after profits, but tricking and lying to your customers is out of bounds. Not that it makes a bit of difference to them, but my commitment to not shop at their stores has been re-enforced.


FinePix F30

March 16, 2007

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Anybody seen a FinePix F30 in action. Specifically, shot at a high ISO. I upgraded my point and shoot to a Canon SD600 a while ago because it had an 800 ISO setting. Unfortunately, the images taken at that range are almost not worth having. The goal, obviously, is to get a point and shoot that I can use without flash when I'm indoors and there is average lighting. The SD600 can't cut it. Other recommendations welcome if you have them.


gmail

March 14, 2007

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

I've recently starting a migration over to gmail. I've played around with it on and off for a while but didn't make a move for two main reasons. 1) I'm a bit paranoid my email being used to send ads to me and 2) I didn't like the idea of using an unencrypted web page (once again because of my healthy paranoia). The ad thing is just on principal and is actually fairly easy to overcome with some hacks out there. The main thing was sending everything over the clear on whatever connection I happend to be on. If I only sent emails from home this wouldn't be a big deal, but I'm often on open wifi and various corporate networks. The good news is that it's easy to secure all your gmail traffic. Instead of using "http://mail.google.com/" you can simply use "https:mail.google.com/". As near as I can tell, your login is always sent secure, but if you start with the "https" all your correspondence is encrypted up to the google servers.


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