Trying new Open Source Software - RSSOwl and MusikCube

December 16, 2006

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I'm trying out two new peices of software that I read about on this blog posting. The are RSSOwl and musikCube. RSSOwl is a java based RSS reader and MusikCube is an MP3 player. So far, I like them both. I think I like the setup of RSSOwl better than RSS Bandit which is what I had been using. As for musikCube, the biggest thing I like about it is that the system tray has player controls like "next" and "previous" available directly. Winamp, which is what I had been using keeps these under a secondary menu in the system tray which is a pain to get to. As with a lot of other software that I use, I'm a big fan of the fact that these are open source.


OpenDNS

December 16, 2006

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The DNS service of my local ISP sucks. It looses itself quite often which is a bad trick. I've just found OpenDNS and am going to give them a shot. I don't know if I'll actually notice an improvement, but hopefully there will be less down time.


The last Sunday at Reimer's

December 14, 2006

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For the past five years or so there has been a Jacksonville tradition called "Sunday at Reimer's". A bunch of folks get together on Sundays to hang out, have some drinks and watch football. In general, we've settled down a little from the early days when there would be multiple beer pong tournaments during the day and a better the 75% chance of ending up at a bar to do karaoke, but it's still a really good time. Sadly, this past Sunday was likely to be the last one. Reimer is moving out of his beach pad that has been host to the event for the past couple years. This isn't the best photo, but here's the basic setup:

Sunday at Reimer's

Then you walk out onto the porch and see this:

Reimer's view

I'm gonna miss that place.


"Take it to the Bridge" Fire Escape

December 14, 2006

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Another example of poor design at The Omni. This time on the In Case Of Fire wall plaque. Normally, these signs have dotted lines that show how to get from where you are to an exit. In this case, you only get to the bridge. This bridge is a few stories up and you'd need to go down another flight of stairs to get the ground floor, and I'm not sure where the closest exit is. Kinda scary.

Fire Escape


Complex alarm clock

December 14, 2006

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I've been staying at The Omni in Atlanta while working on transitioning my work site to a partnership with Turner. I'm "The Tech Guy" at work and am fairly handy when it comes to most things electronic, but the alarm clock in my room is beyond me. It looks like this:

F-ing Alarm Clock

I spent literally 5 min. trying every possible combination of button presses that I could think of and I don't think I ever got the alarm to set. I might have, but if I did whatever indication it was trying to give me didn't make sence to my brain. I managed to turn the radio on and off several times but that's about it. This is wonderful example of very poor industrial design. The phrase it brings to mind is "designed by an engineer". I'm sure it probably makes perfect sense to the person who put 26 buttons one it, but you really shouldn't have to have an instruction booklet to set an alarm clock. Especially when you are in a hotel and there is no instruction booklet to be found. I just unplugged it (cause I had a nagging feeling it was going to go off every 15 min. starting at 2am) and used my cellphone's alarm.


Dot Matrix Sky Writing

December 14, 2006

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A few weeks ago I was driving when I noticed what I think can best be described as Dot Matrix Sky Writing. There were 5 jets crusing along puffing smoke in a cooridinate effort to spell out "Geico" across the sky over and over again. The results was pretty neat: image I'm not sure if you can make out the jets in this image or not, but they are at the right side finishing up the "O". There was a sixth jet that was trailing behind that who wasn't adding anything to the smoke. I guess he was helping to keep everything in line.


Costume

December 14, 2006

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This will tell you just how behind I am. I'm just now getting to pull images off my point and shoot camera from Halloween. I usually end up at a costume party for Halloween and have always had my little point and shoot with me. This isn't that different from most of the rest of the times when I'm out as I tend to carry it with me the vast majority of the time. Anyway, Halloween is always a fun time to shoot a lot so I get loads of great snapshots. With the point and shoot though, they always have the "blasted by flash" look since there is rarely enough ambient light to provide a decent exposure for the little machine. This year, I decided that I wanted to bring out the big camera. What better way to do that than to make my costume that of a photographer. Not that hard to do since I have all the gear and fixings, but I wanted to add an extra little touch so folks didn't say I wasn't really dressed up. So, throw in a laser printer, a lamination machine at Kinko's and a lanyard and you come up with the extra detail that makes the costume work.

Here's the result:

Halloween Costume

And here's a snapshot someone took of me that shows most of the rest of my costume.

image


Pandora Radio

December 14, 2006

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If you haven't seen Pandora and you are a fan of music, go there now. It's a way to create online "radio" stations by choosing some songs/artists you like and then it drops in similar stuff along with it. You can listen for a few songs without signing up, but it's worth it to register an account (it's free, but requires e-mail address). A while ago I was thinking about creating a music recommender site, but mine wasn't going to stream music, and I don't think there is anyway I could have come near this which uses The Music Genome Project for its backend. Kudos to the folks who pulled this off. Yet anothe fine example of a way the internet can broaden your world and help you find new things that are your style.


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