Tagged: Interesting

43 Social Profiles

One challenge any community site faces is how to let users express themselves. It is hard to express the sum total of any individual on a web page, but in the virtual world that interface is the one chance a user has to connect with another human being. The challenge for designers is making the profile look good. In most instances the profiles end up cluttered and in the MySpace instance where users are allowed to customize the look of their profile the site ends up with some of the ugliest pages ever created. However, I'm not convinced that is a fault in their system. If you look at most teenagers rooms they would likely qualify as a superfund cleanup site. Their online profiles reflect that.

The following is a list of profiles from all types of social networks. Some are general networks like Facebook. Others are niche networks like Bakespace. One thing I find interesting is how each niche site tries to let the user express themselves in a way that is unique to the site. For examp...

Continue Reading →

None Of Us Is As Dumb As All Of Us

If you are accustomed to working in an office you'll be familiar with the myriad of conference calls, meetings and 'brainstorming' events that waste most people's days. While most people assume that the most effective method of coming up with new ideas is to gather everyone close to a whiteboard and lock the doors the latest research shows that this is not true.

In fact together we are stupider then when we are apart.

We still need creative thought. We still have problems to solve. What is a species to do?

  1. Take advantage of the strengths of the group. The advantage that you have over and individual is more background and diversity. Keep the redundant BS to a minimum. This is much more difficult than it sounds as people tend to like to reiterate what the guy next to them just said. This also results in a great deal of positioning. Which leads to...
  2. Brainwriting instead of brainstorming. The approach taken in the study is interesting. I would like to see another study co...

Continue Reading →

Twitter – The New Borg

I'm not a twitter power user but people frequently ask me what it is and why would I use it. I used to tell them it was a 'micro-blogging' service. Of course that explanation assumes that the person asking the question knows what a blog is and why they would need a smaller version of one.

I have a new answer: "We are the borg"

For those who are geeky like I and my wife* the borg were a human like species that merged the organic with metal, wore goth makeup and thought as a group. Twitter is our first evolutionary step towards becoming the the pale faced, laser wearing, funny talking collective that lived in giant boxes. Perhaps the borg have even come back in time and brought us this wondrous technology and destroy our lives.

Don't get me wrong. I love twitter. Never before have so many voices been able to be heard at the same time. However, the negative is that now there are so many voices. Borg thought was shared among all members of the race. At the time th...

Continue Reading →

Words Fail Me

http://www.kutv.com/content/news/watercooler/story.aspx?content_id=fb5ec53b-e22b-47eb-8a03-0d06ad4c4fbf

Continue Reading →

It’s Your Head Not Your Butt That Matters

I've been writing code all day, again. Luckily I enjoy writing software. There are moments when I and the computer don't get along. On those days I consider becoming a garbage man or maybe a bulldozer driver.

Just keep me off the bull dozer on the days I don't agree with my code.

Anyway I've observed some interesting situations over the years. When I worked at Sorenson Vision the guys that worked 8am-7pm made fun of the 'long haired hippie' types that we hired from Apple. They didn't start work until 10am. How ridiculous.

I was young and stupid then. I am old and stupid now, but I have realized that when you write software the most important thing you can do is to (cliche alert) have your head in the game. Unfortunately, for my poor wife she has observed this in action.

There are only a few moments when I am not writing code. For some reason I write the best code on Sunday mornings in the shower. The trick is keeping it in my head until Monday morning. I wri...

Continue Reading →

Marginal Improvements Make People Happy

I saw a recent post on Slashdot that got my attention - What Google Engineers do for Fun: Computerized Lego Art Project. I have to admit I am a total Lego nut so whenever I see Lego in the headline I have to read the article.

Justin Voskuhl spent his weekend writing an application that makes it pretty easy to take a photo and turn it into a Lego mosaic. I am impressed. He is even promising to release it as open source. (Please use githhub).

This isn't the first application that performs this task. Legoizer does something similar. The Slashdot crowd was quick to point out all the ways that you could have accomplished this task before Voskuhl came along. However, what they don't get is that this application has the potential to make the task very simple. Sure I could use Photoshop and run some algorithm, but then I would have to learn Photoshop and deal with that process. I could use Legoizer, but I don't know anything about Lightwave and frankly I don't have time to lea...

Continue Reading →

Muffins

When you are not especially mobile because you trashed your knee and you aren't supposed to bend it more than 30 degrees or else you might tear open a newly sewn together wound you appreciate the finer things in life.

My wife makes the best muffins in the world. Period. Every year, at least during the years when she can find apricots, she makes apricot jam. Said jam is then inserted into her home made muffin mix before baking. Something about the jam keeps it from turning into rock candy in the oven (like the other jams we have tried).

The result is a little bit of heaven in your mouth.

Continue Reading →

Open Any Document in Google Docs Via a Url

We are looking at ways to integrate the new Teachers Without Borders site with Google docs.

Turns out that you can open: documents - .pdf, .doc, .txt, .html, .rtf and .odt spreadsheets - .xls, .csv, .ods presentations - .ppt

By feeding the file url to this google url:

http://docs.google.com/?DocAction=updoc&formsubmitted=true&uploadURL=DOCUMENT_URL

Here's an example if you needed to view a W4 form from the IRS url:

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf

Use this url:

http://docs.google.com/?DocAction=updoc&formsubmitted=true&uploadURL=http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf

Continue Reading →

Found Some Stuff

I managed to find my riding glasses and my bike computer today. Neither were cheap, but it is interesting how little you care about that stuff when there is a gaping hole in your leg. I left both in the van when my wife took me to the hospital. I wasn't sure if I had discarded my gloves on the road, but they turned up on the shelf in the garage. I must have dropped them there on the way to the van to head to the ER. My wife washed my bike clothes - specifically my arm warmers. She said they smelled like rotting flesh. I go to the dr again in the morning. I looking forward to the day he tells me I can bend my leg again.

Now if it were just as easy to replace missing flesh as it is to replace missing bike parts....

Continue Reading →

Appreciate the Little Things

I took sort of an actual bath today. I love to shower so it really stinks that I have to find alternate means to clean up. I managed to sit in the bath and shower off a bit this morning without getting my wound wet or bending my knee. It was a pain but better than the alternative of using wash clothes.

Whenever something happens to me I appreciate how much we take for granted. Just being able to walk and bend your knee is not insignificant. Last year I lost hearing in my right ear which was then replaced with a constant ringing. It kept me awake at night and drove me crazy. Luckily it went away. I now better appreciate that my father's ears rang for years after he had chemotherapy. Last year I messed up my back. Sitting at a desk was akin to torture. After time and some exercise it is stable now and the pain is gone.

I appreciate the little things more now - being able to sit, to walk, to hear.

Continue Reading →

Ways to Not Make Use of Your Health Insurance – Cyclist vs. Rattlesnake

Over the years I have seen a couple of bike wrecks. In one the rider's frame was snapped in half and he took a LOT of skin off his back. It was a good thing he had a helmet. It cracked, but probably saved his head. The other wreck was the Cache Valley Century. At the end a couple of doctors I was riding with managed to bust up a rim pretty good, but came out ok.

I have long worried that someday my turn would come.

Today it did.

I am a pretty cautious rider. I don't like wrecks. I don't like hospitals. I don't like needles. I don't like surgery. I got a good dose of all of that today.

This morning I woke up early to go ride with Joel. I was debating taking arm warmers. They are extra bulk, but the cold (50 degrees I think) made me wear them. I was freezing, but you warm up when you ride. Turns out that today was a really good day to have them.

I like to ride with Joel. We chat about technology ideas, business ideas, and how those ideas relate to education. It was dur...

Continue Reading →

Something to Think About

My wife took the girls to Ogden today. While driving through the canyon the driver in front of here was driving erratic and she noticed that their hands moved a lot. When she got to Brigham City she discovered that the people in the car in front of her were speaking in sign language. Something I had never thought about.

Continue Reading →

Rode Stoddard Creek Friday (A few Fridays ago)

These days I only manage to ride motorcycles with my dad, brother and brother-in-law about once a year. This time we made our way to Stoddard Creek. Its about 60 miles north of my parents house. Very few people can find Idaho on a map which is fine with me. Because of that fact there are a lot of great places to ride within just a few hours. Most of the time we are alone in the mountains even on a Friday or Saturday. The solitude is nice, but there is that nasty possibility that you wreck and nobody finds your body until spring.

Most people don't like logging these days, but thanks go to the logging industry for this trip. All of the roads in the area are old logging roads. I doubt the Forest Service has the motivation or the money these days to build trails into remote locations.

Here's the photos:

Sunset

The only accident of the day

 

 

My Truck

 

Give me your...

Continue Reading →

Teeth Whitening = Pain

A few days ago I broke one of my bottom front teeth. Luckily it didn't hurt, but I figured I should get it fixed. That started a serious of events that led to one of the more painful experiences of my life. They started to fix my tooth but then I mentioned that I had considered whitening my teeth at some point. Since they need to match the color of the filling to the color of your teeth I chose to hold off until I could get my teeth whitened. They couldn't get me in for a while, but I made an appointment and they put me on a call list in case they had a cancellation.

They called this morning and I went in. First they cleaned my teeth. I had a couple of cavities as well. I hate having a numb face all day so I had them do the cavities without the drugs. It hurts a bit but is bearable. Then I had them whiten my teeth. That takes and hour and involves putting in a dental dam which is actually pretty miserable. After that they do 4 bleachings. The dentist told me that my teeth might...

Continue Reading →

Outsourcing My Religion

I got up at 6:30 am this morning so that I could serve in what is know as a 'calling' in my church. I have done this for two years now.

Anyone that knows me knows that I don't get up at 6:30. Sometimes I stay up and work until 6:30, but I don't get up at that time. That is unless God wants me to. Thus, on the 'day of rest' I drag my butt out of bed way to early in the morning so that I can go and do something else I never do - take notes by hand. I have used a computer for so many years now that I can type like mad, but I can barely use a pen. My signature is just a bunch of loopy lines and no one and I mean no one can read what I write. However, I take notes because that is my religious duty.

Truthfully, I don't mind it so much. I get to associate with people who are far more righteous than me. I keep thinking some of that spirituality will wear off on my, but it doesn't really so I have decided on a new course of action.

The latest trend is outsourcing...

Continue Reading →

Snakes in the Grass

Last week right before we left for Yellowstone I went out to work on the sprinklers for the garden. I threw on some flip flops because that was easy. While walking around I felt something go over my foot. I thought it was the grass brushing against me ( I don't like to mow the lawn so it gets long sometimes ). When I looked down I discovered that we have a bit of wildlife living in the garden. A two foot long garter snake slithered off into the neighbor's yard.

I thought it was gone.

I told my girls about it. Later when they were outside I heard then yelling about a snake. I figured they were making it up. They do that. Right before we left I went out to water the garden. There it was again.

I left it alone. They eat mice and bugs and stuff.

Today my wife almost stepped on it. According to Wikipedia they can have 50 offspring at a time.

Now the snake has to go.

Continue Reading →

Blackmarket Bread

Listening to the news in the car this morning there are protests in Egypt because the high price of fuel has driven up the cost of grain which has driven up the cost of government subsidized bread. The news story was the first time I had heard the term "Black Market Bread." As I drove down the freeway amongst thousands of other cars I realized that the high price of fuel is an inconvenience for many of us here in the United States but it can mean starvation for those who already have limited access to resources.

Continue Reading →

PicLens on ThePlanCollection.com

David Wiley pointed me to PicLens a few days ago. It is fun way to view online images. Immediately I saw the potential use for viewing house plans. We already have data feeds in RSS and Atom setup all over the site so I figured it wouldn't be hard to integrate the service into ThePlanCollection.com. It wasn't, but there are still a few bugs. They are probably my fault, but I think there is a great opportunity to integrate this software into ecommerce sites like mine to provide customers a really cool method for quickly browsing product. It works especially well with house plans. (Follow the link. If you have PicLens installed you can press the little blue play button in the upper right of your browser. If not click on the 'View as Slideshow' link).

Here are a couple of things I would love to see them add/change. I noticed that in the flash slide show the player pulls in the 'description' field from the RSS but the Firefox Extension does not. We added a bunch of ...

Continue Reading →

Interesting Things From Today

I ate pickle soup. It was awesome. Try new things you might be surprised.

Evolution is bullshit. If it were real mankind would have evolved such that his hair did not migrate from the top of his head to his back, ears and nose as he grows older.

I bought more cereal today. 13 boxes to be exact. I like to push my luck. I hadn't realized just how much cereal we have. I think we number somewhere in the 100 boxes range. If there is ever an apocalypse our kids be happy because they will think life has become one eternal saturday morning.

Devin is taking more steps each day.

Continue Reading →

Interesting Things From Today

I ate pickle soup. It was awesome. Try new things you might be surprised.

Evolution is bullshit. If it were real mankind would have evolved such that his hair did not migrate from the top of his head to his back, ears and nose as he grows older.

I bought more cereal today. 13 boxes to be exact. I like to push my luck. I hadn't realized just how much cereal we have. I think we number somewhere in the 100 boxes range. If there is ever an apocalypse our kids be happy because they will think life has become one eternal saturday morning.

Devin is taking more steps each day.

Continue Reading →

Battlestar Galactica

I will show my true geek here. Battlestar Galactica will be back on the air this Friday night. I am so excited. When I was a kid I watched the original series all the time. I will be sad when it is over, but for now I will just look forward to one of the best Sci-Fi TV series ever produced.

Continue Reading →

Chocolate

On the way back from the Mountain West Ruby Conference we dropped by xocolate in Salt Lake. They have a mole chocolate made with something that will set your mouth on fire. I bought a half a pound of chocolate and a half pound of peppermint bark. That stuff will be the death of me. I can eat pounds of it in a single sitting - I kid you not I ate more than a pound of it at a game night. Oddly, I didn't get sick.

We just ordered Roger's Chocolates for my father for his birthday. They aren't cheap, but they are supposed to be amazing. The sweet part of buying chocolates for someone for a present is that they often share.

I love Chocolate.

Continue Reading →

How Mortgages and Housing Hurt the Economy

I had always assumed that the potential for default on risky mortgages was a problem, but I didn't realize how far reaching it could become. Here is an article in the New York Times that explains how bad mortgages can have a dire effect on the global economy.

In case you want more bad news here is another report on what is going on in the housing sector.

With ThePlanCollection.com we are able to observe the market somewhat because many people buy a house plan before they build a home. In some states things are still moving along and people are still building homes. It will be interesting to watch which styles of house plans continue to sell. Even in hard economic times luxury house plans tend to remain popular. Interesting.

Continue Reading →

Utah Flat Tax

So the follow on to the Tax date is the fact that we paid taxes this evening. This year Utah citizens have the option of either a flat tax rate of 5.35% or the standard 7% rate with deductions. The population of Utah is made up of a large number of members of the LDS church who pay a 'flat' 10% of their income as tithing. Therefore, I am sure that the 5.35% seems very appealing - even divine given its similarity to the tithing structure. However, I would be very interested in the overall effect of this tax on the general population. In my personal case the flat tax would have resulted in an increase of more than $1,000. Even though 5.35% is a smaller number than 7% the net result is a greater portion of my income going to the state. I don't think that my situation is much different than many Utahns so I wonder if others would also be adversely affected. Given that the country is moving towards recession now is not the time to increase taxes. I think that the intent of the f...

Continue Reading →

Automatically Geotag Photos

I know that adding GPS to cameras will add cost to the unit but it seems like the perfect marriage. With the GPS data embedded inside the exif data you won't have to tag your vacation with 'Yellowstone National Park'. Instead, your photos can show up on a Google map or be set for auto tagging based on coordinates. Personally, I would pay some bucks for this feature. We have 60,000 digital photos. Managing that much data is a bit tricky. If we could search by location it would make my wife very happy.

Marion has been focusing on connecting information to physical spaces and recently wrote about geotagging specifically.

Here are a few devices that enable this functionality now: N2 di-GPS mini for Nikon cameras. Here's someone that has one and loves it.

Oregon State created some free software that runs on the Mac . It will take GPS data and sync it with your photos. Pretty cool.

Canon makes an add-on for their cameras that adds a usb port. You connect your GPS to that and...

Continue Reading →

The Internet Currency

A long time ago people figured out that if you used coins for trading instead of chickens you could build up a complex economy. The coins usually consisted of something precious themselves. Not to long ago society moved towards a more abstract notion of currency and found it was easier to produce dollars out of paper.

Today the concept of money has become even more abstract and most of our efforts are recorded and rewarded as numbers on a balance sheet. Not to many of us carry or keep thousands of dollars on hand.

There is a new currency emerging. This currency is even more abstract than all those that have gone before it and in many ways is more volatile. However, it forms the basis of many open economic models.

In the internet economy popularity = money. If your website ranks high and you get plenty of traffic you can convert that into real dollars through ad revenue or sales of existing items. That model makes sense to most people. However, there are other instances where popularit...

Continue Reading →

Journal Writing Sucks, Blogging is Cool

The LDS cultural has encouraged personal history and journal writing since its inception. Ever since then the vast majority of the members have ignored this council and the overall level of guilt among the LDS faithful has continued to rise as each successive generation followed the example of the previous. Technology now provides some relief from the burden. Journal writing, a boring effort prompting statements like, "I really should write in my journal but I need to clean the drains," has been replaced by the uber hip practice of blogging, Facebook profiles and lifestreams. If Brigham had only spun journal writing a little differently the church could have been oh so cool. An early prophesy encouraging rich Myspace profile development could have shaken the very foundations of cool society. As our real lives become more and more intertwined with our virtual lives the amount of data being stored about our daily lives is beginning to fill millions of Gigabytes in the 'clou...

Continue Reading →

Turn WordPress Into Social Butterfly

I have been pitching this idea of a distributed social network to everyone that can stand to listen to me. I realize that the conversation around WordPress and the future of social networking is heating up, but as it does I think it is important to begin thinking about implementation. It is fun to philosophize, but at the end of the day users want some toys to play with.

Chris Messina lays out his vision and the particular functionality associated with it on his wiki. Automattic picked up Buddy Press, and the code is still available on Google Code. For historical reasons here's a thread on the WPMU forums about the activity around Buddy Press. There is another social plugin for WordPress called Xiando]4 that hasn't gotten a lot of attention. We are going to do our part and contribute as well.

As part of an effort to build a social network for Teachers Without Borders we came to a realization that it would be hypocritical to create a network filled with borders. Thus, we began t...

Continue Reading →

Content Connected to Geography

Marion has been working on this idea of connecting information to a location for quite some idea now. WhereIGo has made some of the technology that is needed to make it happen available.

If you haven't read about where the future of information is headed check it out.

Continue Reading →

We’re All Gonna Die

In the cosmic scheme of things life is little more than a blip between birth and death. Luckily for us as a species the blips are coming online faster than they are fading out. However, it is terrifying when the universe conspires to silence all the blips at once. The death is aimed at us.

Continue Reading →

Note to Facebook, Myspace and Other Social Silos: DIE

I wrote three Facebook apps and I have ideas for several more. The most successful was the House Plans application I did for ThePlanCollection.com, but in the Facebook world you can't count a couple thousand users as especially successful.

When Open Social started up I felt like I needed to go sign up for a MySpace account so that I would be ready for when the next big thing showed up. So far Open Social feels like that high school party the nerdy guy threw and two or three other nerdy guys showed up but come Monday morning it will be the joke of the high school. I turned off email alerts for MySpace because I grew tired of the offensive bot spam. I tried playing with Orkut because that was the first platform that supported Open Social. Orkut feels like the Twilight Zone. I tried Twitter for a while. It is a cool service, but I forget its there unless I am bored and the only thing handy is my phone and I want to post about my boredom. How's that for boring.

There are countless ...

Continue Reading →

Really Neat Photography

Most of the cool photos you see are manipulated via photoshop these days. Miss Palmen, a 44-year-old Dutch artist, creates her art the old fashion way and the results are amazing.

Continue Reading →

The Uninsured

I saw an ad on TV last night (while learning about the history of drug addiction on the History Channel). It was sponsored by the AMA but highlights the health care crisis in the United States. 1 out of 7 people does not have health insurance. This is bound to be a major topic in the upcoming election - at least it should be. I am not sure if the AMA's motives are purely altruistic or if they just want to make sure their members get paid, but providing a website where people can learn about the problem goes a long way in education the population about one of the biggest problems facing our country in this century.

Continue Reading →

Utah WordPress Meetup

I spent this afternoon with some really cool and interesting individuals from around utah. Matt Mullenweg, the original developer of WordPress was in town and was willing to come and hang out, each lunch and chat for a couple of hours about anything. Matt is a very cool guy not only because he created the best blogging platform of all time, but also because he is just a plain nice guy.

It is to bad that Salt Lake is as far away as it is. These kinds of events are a great chance to meet other people with similar interests and to generate ideas. It is also important to break out of your own personal sphere every now and then so that you can see what the outside world looks like.

A couple of highlights:

  1. Matt said that he prefers a business model that works off the ubiquity of the software rather than a model that limits your ability when using the open source version so that it can charge for more functionality/license (think Mysql)
  2. Holding a Word Camp here in Utah wouldn't be diffic...

Continue Reading →

Weather Control

I am not sure if this is cool or totally freaky, but the Chinese have figured out how to kind of control the weather so that it doesn't rain on the Olympics this summer. All this time I thought it was the Japanese Mafia that was controlling the weather.

Continue Reading →

Payday Lenders Suck

I was just reading in the Deseret News this morning that payday lenders have filed 27,000 lawsuits in the State of Utah since 2005. In the Provo judicial district this account for 81% of the total lawsuits. It is bad enough that these places prey on the poor with 500% interest loans. It is yet another of their sins that they use the court system, funded with tax money, as their goons to collect. Who needs Guido and concrete boots when you can get the same service for free?

These guys will burn in hell along with Intermedia's Servers

Continue Reading →

Internet Failure

By total chance I found this article about the internet failing in two continents. This hurts the economy of several Middle Eastern and African countries which sucks. Wasn't the point of the internet to create a distributed communications network that could withstand a nuclear war? What happened?

Continue Reading →

Professionals and The Enterprise

Professionals and the enterprise

Under threat of divorce if I didn't hang my Christmas lights this past Christmas I braved the elements and managed to put them on the trees. Of course this wasn’t sufficient to prevent the impending separation – only lights on the top eves of the house would be a sufficient sacrifice to stave off a divorce lawyer.

At great peril, a very kind neighbor and I attempted the feat. As each roof clip drew us closer to the two story eves and we had to climb higher on the roof it became clear that we would have to abort the attempt or die.

I don’t like death so we quit.

My wife didn’t really like our style of ‘safe’ decorating where the only lights were the ones we could reach so I called someone – a “professional.” I figured that a bunch of guys with safety harnesses and ladders certified by OSA would show up wearing helmets and other such gear.

Two guys showed up with a ladder, climbed up on my roof and scaled the eves learning perilously over the edge cli...

Continue Reading →

The Logistics of Life

I stopped to get gas this morning, nearly froze and spent $92 for 30 gallons of gas. My truck isn't big, but it drinks a lot and it has two tanks.I only drive it about 12 miles a day so it isn't so bad. I fill up less than once a month and in warmer months I ride my bike and the truck sits in the garage.

I recently got the oil changed as well.

Life is full of little things like that that require our attention, but don't contribute meaningfully to where we want to be. Think about all the logistics we deal with - laundry, taking out the trash, washing cars, email etc. Life is filled with these nagging little things.

I think the trick is to reduce the items that are unnecessary. Believe it or not you can ignore many of the less important items and focus on the important things in life - the things that contribute to full filling goals and achieving success. Do the things that you have to do but don't make them your focus.

We are addicted to email, and feel compelled to rea...

Continue Reading →

A Modern Prophet

President Hinckley passed away sunday night. He was 97. It isn't possible to say enough good about a man whose example to all was unity, peace, and to "do a little better" and "stand a little taller". Whether you are LDS or not those values are universal and something anyone can live by. He will be missed greatly.

President Hinckley is really the first prophet to be around for the era of blogs and so is probably the first prophet to be mourned via the general internet, blog sphere and even on Facebook.

The beauty of the internet is that it connects us in ways never before possible. Everyday individuals are now able to express ideas, thoughts and grief along side the public outlets in a way that sends their message to large numbers of individuals.

Continue Reading →

The Master Simulator Made Me do it

Robots evolve good and evil attributes. Interesting.

Continue Reading →

The Master Simulator Made Me do it

Robots evolve good and evil attributes. Interesting.

Continue Reading →

Indulgenc.es

My second Facebook application is up. I and Marion built something to help you and your friends enjoy the lighter side of life. Try out Indulgences.

Continue Reading →

Do We Need Help With Elections

Perhaps it is time for the UN to monitor our elections.

Continue Reading →

Government 2.0

I really and truly heard the term Government 2.0 on the radio this morning. I shuddered and it wasn't from the cold. However, I listened to the broadcast anyway despite my disgust at hearing that our government was now being tagged with version labels. (Shouldn't we be on something more like government 232.0 or something anyway?)

Yes there is a point.

Utah in spite of being non-progressive in politics is very progressive in using technology to help facilitate the political process. They have computers and email. (One senator from Cache Valley is quoted as saying he would use his as a step ladder to help him get up on his horse - true story.)

Luckily they have moved a step further. The Senate has a webcam and a Senate blog. It is my understanding however that only the majority posts to it so that excludes a democrat that somehow got elected - I am sure they will do away with that guy somehow.

You can listen to Senate radio. (Who needs to still music anymore when you have the Se...

Continue Reading →

Top Selling Stuff on Amazon Brings Tears

I am always looking for a deal so I keep trying to find one on Amazon Grocery. The problem is that you can waste a lot of time trying to find something you would really buy.

So I try the top sellers page:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/grocery/ref=sv\_gro\_1/104-6217951-1925564

Notice the top sellers are baby items, coffee and diet pills (at least they are right now) and deep in my heart I have to feel bad for all the mothers who are up late with the kids and trying to lose weight.

No wonder we are a Prozac nation.

Continue Reading →

In Meetings at the Hewlett Foundation

I like the title of the post because it almost sounds like I am important (which I am not). I am sitting in a meeting at the Hewlett Foundation. A year and some months ago I was at the Mellon Foundation. These meetings are interesting because they are filled with very intelligent people. These individuals are here because they are the top in their areas.

I contrast these meetings with the developer meetings I usually go to. Both groups are trying to solve problems, but the approaches taken are markedly different. For developers the focus is usually on concrete problem and solution. They try to figure out the code to solve a problem. At the very least they will draw pictures and figure out how to write something.

In this meeting there is a lot more high level talk. Both approaches are valid, but as a developer it is interesting to me to see the difference in methods.

My favorite part of the meeting and the part that was worth coming too was the last hour. That is the part where we were ...

Continue Reading →

Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

About a year ago my account's office was broken into. The only thing the thieves took were the hard drives from the computers. That is scary for someone like me because the message is clear. These guys are smart enough to know that the value of all the personal information stored on those drives is worth far more than any of the other items in that office.

Here are some of the things I learned from this experience:

  1. Call one of the national credit reporting agencies and have them place a block on your account. Calling one will place a block with all the agencies. There are two kinds of blocks. One locks your account for 90 days another will lock your account for years. The lock simply means that an alert will show up anytime someone tries to check your account which will tell the person checking to contact you directly.
  2. Pull a credit report from at least one of the agencies once a year or so. By law you can do this for free once a year on this website. If you want to make sure that...

Continue Reading →

Complaning About Perspective

I love NPR. I was listening to it last night on the way home and Will Bowen of Christ Church Unity was on talking about his no complaint for 21 days program and the purple bracelets he passes out to help people to remember not to complain. This morning on my way in they were talking to David Allen, the author of "Getting Things Done". More than productivity David Allen the gist of Allen's interview for me was perspective.

Allen talked about how important it is to maintain perspective in life. At times we are forced to work with people we don't want to work with. Our relationships may not go the way we want them to go. Many of the parameters for our life are set for us so it is up to us to decide what to do with what we have. He made the point that many human beings in the most dire of circumstances still maintain a hopefully, happy perspective - it is the thing we have control over and the thing we can change. As we improve our perspective guess what, our lives improv...

Continue Reading →

Flickr as Web 2.0, bla, The Soviets were like Nuke 2.0 way back in the 70s

I watched Dr Strangelove late at night a couple of weeks ago. It is dark humor and a movie in classical Kubrick style. The irony in the movie has so much to teach modern society. In a sick twist of fiction meeting fact we have to learn to love the bomb all over again. There is a good chance Soviets really did build a dooms day device back in the 70s, turned it on in 1985 and it is still running.

More links: Dr Strangelove and the real Doomsday machine The Return of the Doomsday Machine?

Nuclear weapons are never funny. OK maybe sometimes they are. Web 2.0 has brought us new and interesting names - names like flickr. I bet they though they were being new and crazy. Guess what. The Soviets have been dropping e's way before the Silicon Valley crowd.

Notice the code name of the device "Perimetr".

At least if it goes off humanity won't have died from those old 1.0 weapons. No way baby this is Nuke 2.0.

Continue Reading →

For the People Who Don’t Live Here

My deepest sympathy goes out to all those who don't make their home in Logan Utah. There are few places that offer as much in the way of the outdoors as here. This past weekend we spent out time at Bear Lake about an hour away. It is a rather large body of water which was filled with us and a waverunner and my daughters screaming at the top of their lungs, "go faster daddy."

On the way back we drove up to Tony's Grove. It is a small lake in the top of the mountains. The narrow windy road looks like something out of the Tour De France and is a favorite for roadies especially for time trials.

This morning on my way into work (on my bike) we took a detour and road the river trail up the canyon. It is a fun little mtb trail that follows the Logan River. It is also about 3 minutes from my office.

For all those who sit in their cars burning the remains of long gone vegetation and dinosaurs my deepest sympathy.

Continue Reading →

My wife is pretty cool

So I am downstairs helping my wife do cleaning and restoration after my tornado children destroy the downstairs family room again. She says to me, "don't you want to buy a big TV for down here."

I say yeah.

Continue Reading →

Ruby made me fatter so I had to do something

For years I have relied soley on typing to keep me in shape. Most of the frameworks I have used managed to help me keep the pounds off. They required plenty of code and my fingers were left in great condition. Then I found Ruby on Rails and the pounds started to come on. I just haven't been typing as much. Damn you Rails and your miniscule amount of code.

Because of this new condition I was forced to buy a bike. Ok it might have been gas prices too. Here it is:

http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/bikes/06\_ventura\_elite.html

I have almost 70 miles on it after one week which is nothing compared to all those hard core guys out there, but it helps with my new found typing exercise deficit.

Continue Reading →

I get tired after I eat

Now I know why. I knew that it was logical to sleep after lunch.

Continue Reading →

Engineers are almost perfect but not quite.

Engineers are almost perfect. No really. When we are successful you get a pat on the back. When you fail you kill people. Here are some of the worst mistakes.

Continue Reading →

Things that go boom

When I was a boy scout ( a long time ago) someone tried to heat a can of beany weenies in the fire. In the infinite wisdom of a 13 year old they didn't crack the lid. One explosion and a rain of beanie weenies later we were all ok. At another camp someone threw a can of mosquito spray in the fire. It took a while but it exploded with some fury and blew a hole in the shelter we had setup. We were stupid.
I am just glad that we didn't end up with the results of this British teen's mistake. Looks like an expensive mistake.

Continue Reading →

Thankful for Memory Today

On the way into work I was listening to 'The Infinite Mind' on NPR. It was a story about Caris Corfman an actress who lost her short term memory after surgery to remove a brain tumor. Her situation reminded me of the movie 50 first dates. At the time I saw the movie I had no idea that the condition was even possible, but today I am thankful for the simple ability to remember.

Continue Reading →

Well you’re a genius

I like to listen to NPR on the way in to work. This morning they ran a piece discussing what is Genius. It was especially interesting since it the commentator pointed out that genius is not merely a factor of IQ. Marilyn vos Savant holds the record for the highest IQ, 228. However, the commentator pointed out that her skills don't necessarily represent genius. She chooses to spend her days writing a column for Parade magazine. Instead, genius is a factor not only of intelligence but also of contribution. Most of the individuals we regard a genius don't have the highest IQs and didn't always show great promise as children (Albert Einstein), while many child prodigies grow up to lead unremarkable lives as adults. The part I found amusing was that level of education rarely indicates level of intelligence. The commentator pointed out that the closer one gets to PhD level the less likely you are to be someone other consider a genius. This is especially true in the art ...

Continue Reading →

Domain camping and the debate about the about me

So I have owned this domain name for several years now and haven't done anything with it which is something I really should be ashamed of (I'm not). There are other people out there with the name Justin Ball who probably would have put something here by now. In fact, there is another Justin Ball right here in Logan, Utah. I know, I get calls for him sometimes. That scares me. I now have a reason to put something here which comes in the form of "persuasion" from David Wiley. I am taking a class and in order to get credit in a PhD program and they expect you to actually do something bla bla bla. Why can't people just learn to code? That's where the love is. It is odd to be motivated by an assignment since blogs are supposed to be organic, bottom up, individuals doing their own thing. Since I am being "motivated" does that make Wiley the "man." (As in the one they set on fire in the Nevada desert not as in "you da man." A...

Continue Reading →