Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Have you checked in?

Like all things, Social Media is evolving.

At first you just posted to Twitter or Facebook that you "just got to Target" or "finally hitting Starbucks for some much needed coffee". Then Twitter added features to allow you to post your location along with your tweet but you still had to tweet where you were. The location feature just posted a link to the map coordinates of where you were. This created a gap in the Social Media landscape that Location Based Check-In services evolved to fill. Gowalla, Foursquare, Loopt, Yelp, and now Facebook Places are examples of this Social Media evolution. Each has its own unique take on the Check-In process but all are generally the same at a base level. Opening each app begins the location portion of the service and you are then presented with a list of Businesses, Venues, Restaurants, etc... that you can Check-In to if you are close enough. Each app has a form reward system for being the person to check in the most at a particular location.
  • Gowalla has a general Leader Board for each location but focuses more on random virtual goods that you "find" by checking in. You can collect these or drop them at locations to become a "Founder" (for the first few to check in) or swap items to find rare ones that you don't have in your collection. Gowalla tracks your achievements thought Stamps in your Passport for things like posting pictures, achieving a certain number of check ins, and unique stamps for each State you check in to.
  • Foursquare awards "Mayorship" of a location if you're the one to check in the most number of times in a particular period. You also earn Badges for certain goals similar to Gowalla's Stamps.
  • Yelp is more of a Review site but recently added Check-In ability and awards titles of Duke or Duchess for those that check in the most at a location.
I don't use Loopt or Facebook Places frequently enough to know what their reward system is like but so far I've not heard of one for either.

Since Yelp is already established as a general review site/app, Gowalla and Foursquare are the leaders currently duking it out for supremacy in the Location Based Social Media game. Foursquare is rapidly being embraced by the Business Community with deals, discounts, and specials offered to the Mayor of a location or simply for checking in. Gowalla recently entered into a deal with Disney and will award you unique Stamps/Buttons for check ins to each of the Disney Attractions. Gowalla also has a feature to allow users to post travels that people can recreate by following your check ins. (sort of a "follow me" tour of an area). This feature was also part of the Disney deal.

I see neither service rushing out to be an overall leader. Instead I see each becoming a leader in their own arena. Foursquare is looking to be the leader in the Business end of things while Gowalla is looking to become the leader in the Recreation arena. The Disney deal gives Gowalla a strong lead on that front and other parks and venues will probably follow suit. Add to that the fact that the new Gowalla v3.0 iPhone app now uses the Facebook and Foursquare API to allow you to use one App and check in to all 3 services as well as post updates to Twitter. That fact might help push Gowalla into the lead a little bit since nobody wants to use 3-5 different apps just to get all your check ins done. I like the new Gowalla v3 app and use it as my main one for check-ins. One App to rule them all as some would say :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

iPad = Star Trek Geek's Ultimate Toy

The iPad is quite possibly the coolest Geek Gadget I've ever owned (so far). Its exactly what Gene Roddenberry foresaw as one of the futures of mobile computing when he created Star Trek. A thin, portable, powerful, touch screen interface to access the worlds information. Kudos to Apple for making his dream a reality.

Of course it was only a matter of time until someone took the Star Trek LCARs interface and wrote an app to literally turn your iPad into a Star Trek PADD. The most interactive and useful one I've found so far is called LCARS Internet Media Reader by the guys at Krueger Systems [iTunes Link] ($4.99 USD). Its mainly a Reader app for now without the ability to post but updates are hopefully in the works once they get some annoying legal issues worked out with the Studios.

A few other LCARS related apps that I've found and like are:
I am ever hopeful that Paramount will get their head out of their collective asses and put a Dev Team on LCARS Application Development. They are missing out on a Metric Ass Load of revenue from the Star Trek Fan Community. The above apps are rather inexpensive and focused on a single or short list of features. The money is in the Official, Licensed versions that would be feature rich and supported rather than independent apps that could disappear via C&D order from the studios any day now.

Come on Paramount! Where are the Official apps? You have no problem having Captian's Log yanked from the App Store yet you haven't given the fans what they are obviously willing to PAY for.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Seriously? WTF Denver?

Face it. The terrorist have won.

The whole point of terrorism is to strike fear and discontent into your enemy disrupting their everyday life. To cause them unrest through acts of violence that lead them to constantly expect another one to occur. To breed paranoia into their daily life and make them eventually self destruct. Like this event the other day in Denver. Someone mounted a TOY robot to a pilar around Coors Field. Nobody knows why the toy was cemented in place but some mental giant sees it and immediately thinks BOMB!!! It never occurs to them to look at it and see its a FRAKIN TOY ROBOT. They simply panic and alert the Bomb Squad. This leads to fear and panic plus hours of traffic jams. All for a TOY ROBOT. Someone was so caught up in all the Right Wing media Fear and Suspicion propaganda that they saw this TOY ROBOT as a threat. This person was so blinded to common sense that all they could see was a potential bomb.

Here is the kicker. We'll never know who the "concerned citizen" was that caused all this needless waste of tax money and police time. Since it turned out to be "a whole lot of nothing" the idiot that called it in will scurry away and hide from the limelight and reporters.
If this had actually turned into some form of bomb or threat that same person would be front and center with every reporter and TV camera crew they could find so they could tell the world how they spotted the threat. He/She would end up on Talk Shows and Radio Programs to tell what they saw and how they reacted to save people. Hell, Hollywood would make a frakin movie of the week around the entire event. All of which is total bullshit. Spotting a threat and making a phone call does not a Hero make. People that call in bogus threats like this need to be named and opened to the ridicule that they deserve. He/She pushed their fear and paranoia onto the public causing disruption and panic for no legitimate reason. They saw a boogieman in the shadows and wanted to make sure everyone else saw it too.

It's shit like this that prove the terrorist have already won.

Friday, October 15, 2010

How many outsourced folks does it take to screw up a new laptop?

I got a new Laptop for work this past Wednesday. Since I am a full time remote-worker I had a former boss bring it home from the office and I picked it up from him. I got it home and tried the VPN connection and it stalled out about 3/4 of the way through the process. I retried many times to no avail so i opened a trouble ticket with our help desk since it was after 9p and nobody was online.

That was probably my first mistake.

Around lunchtime the next day I decided to call about my ticket since I'd not heard anything on it. I went through the normal Level 1 troubleshooting chit chat and explained the problem. Since the laptop was new and I'd never logged into it before I had no cached credentials to get logged in with; and since the VPN wouldn't connect I couldn't get logged in to cache them. Catch-22. The Level 1 person finally got someone from the VPN Client team on and they determined it was a corrupted VPN Client and I needed to reinstall the client, which I couldn't do since I had no way to login. Level 1 guy told me I had to go into the office and get on the LAN so they could remote to my machine and fix it. Ok, no problem. Annoying, but no problem.

I drive in to the office today and give the Level 1 crew a call back. [+1 outsource person] Despite having all the notes in the ticket I still had to rehash everything that had happened before. Then he wanted to go through yet more troubleshooting to get right back to the same point. He needed to reinstall the client. 45min wasted to get back to this point. He then proceeds to attempt an uninstall then a reinstall of the client which tells him it can't because its already installed. Then he goes out to and pulls down some third party Windows Installer Fixer app to try and force windows to remove the old client entries. When he finally gets that done he then tries to put an old version of the client on my laptop. Not one or two revisions, 8 revisions back OLD. He stops when I point this out and gets the appropriate client files but is still unable to get it installed. He is stumped and reaches out to his supervisor [+1 outsourced person] He messes around with the machine for a bit longer and determines I need a local tech to come take a look and fix it. I explain to him I had until 1pm to get this fixed and he needed to escalate the ticket as necessary to get an immediate response. Another 45min wasted.

After waiting for 30min for someone to show up at my desk I called back to ask WTF was up. I was under a time crunch and they were pissing away my time. I get routed, finally, to a Level 2 person [+1 outsourced person] who then goes to a completely different site to get the VPN files and proceeds to install it. Everything seems ok when the install rolls itself back when she got disconnected from my machine. She tells me thats normal and means the install worked if she got kicked off. I explain to her that I watched the installer roll back the installation and then delete the icon from the desktop. After the 3rd time explaining it she finally gets it. /sigh just kill me. She re-remotes to my machine and gets a good install of the client to run and tells me its all done and to try it when I get home. Yeah riiiight. I'm going to drive all the way home to test this. I don't think so.

I go to the Lab and jump on one of our test DSL lines and fire up the laptop. It acts funky and won't let me select Remote Logon so I select Local and log in. The VPN Client then does some self configuration and pops an error about not having permissions to modify the Winlogon process. Oh boy. Not good. I ping the Level 2 lady and she says to click through it and I'll be fine. Ok, she's level 2 and should know what she's talking about. (Wrong again!) I click thru and it says to reboot so I let it reboot.

BLAM!!! Blue Screen of Death!! Reboot, Blue Screen of Death, Reboot, Blue Screen of Death, Re....well, you get the picture by now.

The botched install and apparent failure of the client to successfully modify the winlogon process has thrown me into a blue screen death spiral reboot loop.

Safe Mode? Nope, no good since I didn't have a local logon
Safe Mode with Networking? Nope, Bluescreened as soon as it tried to load Winlogon
Last Known Good? Nope, Bluescreened as soon as it tried to load Winlogon

I was toast and the proud owner of a brand new, shiny, HP boat anchor.

I tell her that I need a reimage IMMEDIATELY and to escalate the ticket however she needed to in order to get someone down to me ASAFP! She initates that process and I head back to my desk. I arrive to find no Voicemails or calls but then get an email saying they tried to reach me and would be closing the ticket in 24hours if I didn't contact them back. WTF?!?!?

I had had it. My time was almost out and I had wasted an entire day fraking with these outsourced, lowest bidder imbeciles who couldn't click their way to google without a detailed script and nice pretty pictures to show them how. I called the number only to get a Level 1 person who wanted to do all the troubleshooting over again. I explained that the machine was in a reboot loop and he was wasting time. After arguing with him for 20min I finally demanded he get someone down to reimage my machine as I would not perform any further (and useless) troubleshooting. He then takes another 15min to put in the Work Order to do what I asked them to do 2 hours ago. He said someone would contact me within 2hours to discuss the repair and I got the number from him and hung up.

Taking the Work Order number with me I went up a few floors where the Techs sit and gambled that someone would be up there and able to help me skip the outsourced HELL that is the Help Desk. Arriving on their floor I discovered what I knew but didn't try earlier. The lady that set up my machine the first time was there and had time to get right on the work order. She still has the laptop but is re-imaging it and I'll pick it up on Monday.

Lesson Learned: FRAK THE HELPDESK. Reach out and ping people directly skipping the morons in India. You'll save HOURS of time and actually get something done.

Oh, and the answer to the question? 4
it takes 4 outsourced folks in India to take a functional laptop with one minor issue and turn it into a blue screening worthless boat anchor over the course of 4 hours.

I'll smurf a cactus before I ever call the help desk again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

13.1 - My First Half-Marathon!

We did it! Jessica and I completed our first Half Marathon. The Disney Inaugural Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Orlando Florida. Jessica did great. She finished in 2:45:17. I finished but didn't do so well. My right knee blew out with a flair up of IT Band Syndrome just after the 10K mark. Up until that moment, I was running at a pace to finish around 2:58. Instead, I had to painfully walk the last half of the race and finished in 3:20 collapsing into a wheelchair with the help of the wonderful volunteers. I was wheeled away to the med tent to see the Ortho. She iced down my knee and wrapped it up. Jessica and I then got our medals and took a slow walk through epcot to head back to the hotel.

Despite the knee problem, I had a great time and definitely plan on doing the Wine and Dine again. Its a night marathon and running through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and around the Boardwalk to finish in Epcot was an incredible experience.

Next year though, we're taking Logan with us and doing the Royal Family 5K Saturday Morning before the Half Marathon.

Monday, September 6, 2010

DragonCon 2010

After spending many hours in the car going back and forth from DragonCon to my house every evening, I decided this year to get a room at the Con. BEST decision I ever made.


Because this year's DragonCon was HUGE for me:
  1. I got to help with my friend Joe Peacock's Art of Akira Exhibit
  2. I got to meet Marian Call in person and arranged for her to play the Fark Party (
  3. I hung out with Colin Ferguson and Neil Grayston from Eureka at the Wolf Pack Party
  4. I wore my first costume (Stargate SG-1 off world uniform w/ vest and weapons)
  5. I got to meet many Stargate Celebrities and show them my Stargate Turtle Tattoo, overall reception was really good, they loved it. (Ben Browder, Michael Shanks, Lexa Doig, Jewel Staite, Jason Momoa, Alaina Huffman, Paul McGillion, and Corin Nemic)
  6. I had a wonderful and long chat with Alaina Huffman from Stargate Universe (she was beyond cool!)
  7. My explanation of the Stargate Turtle Tattoo to Alaina Huffman made it into the CNN Celebs at DragonCon Video (Thanks @alainahuffman for sharing that link with me)
  8. I met @EddieMcClintock (Pete) and @SaulRubinek (Artie) from Warehouse13 and got them to sign the Farnsworth Prop Replica I got from QMX
  9. I got a Zat'nik'tel prop for my Stargate SG-1 off-world costume
  10. I got to have dinner with Marian Call and her Guitarist Scott Barkan and helped them with their gear from the Fark Party to the Parsec Awards and then to the Browncoat Ball.
  11. I bumped into many friends that I know locally, friends from years past, and made some new friends as well.
  12. And of course I took a ton of pictures
Overall, this year beat last year and I'm looking forward to next year beating this year. It'll be DragonCon's 25th Year and I'm hoping for some massive Celeb turnout and great times.

See you there!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Are you a Geek?

Ever wondered if you were a "Geek"? Take a moment and answer the following questions and see how much of a Geek you are. (Keep a count of the "yes" answers)
  1. Do you count the days until a new show premiere date?
  2. Are you constantly checking a convention website looking for updates to the guest list?
  3. Have you ever gotten super excited when a celebrity has replied to you via email, twitter, or facebook?
  4. Are you the "go to" person for most of your friends on a particular subject or event?
  5. Do conversations in social situations often turn to you explaining one of your passions or hobbies?
  6. Do you work movie quotes into conversations with friends, family and coworkers?
  7. Do most of your friends quote right back?
  8. Are you one of the first of your family/friends to adopt technology or new internet services?
  9. Have you ever attended a midnight release of a video game, book or movie?
  10. Have you ever dressed up for a convention or party?
  11. Do you routinely use more than one social media site or service? (facebook, twitter, myspace, foursquare, gowalla, etc...)
  12. Do you have more than one iPod or MP3 playing device?
  13. When you pack for vacation do you have an "electronics and chargers" list?
  14. Are the books you read routinely part of a series?
  15. Have you gotten in line hours (or days) ahead of release time/date for a product or event?
  16. Do you primarily interact with your friends via the internet?
  17. Do you have friends you routinely chat with on the internet that you have never met in person?
  18. Have you ever attended a tweetup or flashmob event?
  19. When you get a mass email forward from a friend do you frequently hit and inform your friend that they are forwarding a hoax?
  20. Do you measure your computers storage potential in TB?
  21. Do you have at least one MMO subscription?
  22. Do you get most of your news and current events via Social Networking, News Aggregate sites, and RSS Feeds?
  23. Do you still have a piece of technology thats popularity dates back more than 10 years?
  24. Can you read a Binary Clock?
  25. Have you ever hacked your X-Box, Tivo, AppleTV, or Wireless router?

Chart of Geekness (How did you do?)
  • 0 = End User - You probably still have a VCR and its most likely STILL blinking 12:00 from when you first plugged it in
  • 01-05 = Not a geek but you know one - you scratched your head and said "huh?" to most of the above questions, you did know enough to use Google to try and answer some of them.
  • 06-10 = Category 1 Wannabe Geek - You've probably been round a Category 3 or higher Geek enough times to have some Geekness rub off on you. With a little bit of effort you could attain Category 2 Geekness in no time.
  • 11-15 = Category 2 Geek - You have a basic understanding of many Geek things and are on your way to becoming an authority in one of your passions or hobbies.
  • 16-20 = Category 3 Advanced Geek - You are an expert in a particular field but are still working on others. Your thirst for knowledge and skills will take you far.
  • 21-24 = Category 4 Elite Geek - Other Geeks value your opinion and often seek you out for sounding board sessions in an effort to figure things out. You work well in a group of other Geeks but your patience with end-users is thinning.
  • 25 = Category 5 Uber Geek - You associate with mostly other Geeks, you are the frequent "go to" person for many Geek subjects and areas of study. You enjoy discussions with other Geeks but have little to no patience for end-user complaints and assumptions.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Is there an App for that?

A few of my friends are recently new to the iPhone or will be getting one in the coming weeks so I figured I'd post up a list of apps that I have come to rely on over the past few years.

If you're on Twitter and follow a lot of people then you know how hard it can be sometimes to catch up and keep up. TweetDeck is the solution. TweetDeck allows you to sort your feed into multiple columns and then file the people you follow into the columns for easier sorting. TweetDeck can connect to Twitter, Facebook, Google Buz
z, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Myspace. No more needing to check sparate apps or webpages for all your friends updates. TweetDeck puts them all in one, easy to configure, dashboard on both your iPhone and they also have Desktop versions.

Need to write a quick note while you're out somewhere? Want to take a picture and remember where something was? Need to quickly dictate some notes to write up or remember later? Then Evernote is a solution for you. Evernote is a free service* that allows you to create those types of Notes and reminders that are then sync'd with their server and then sync'd with your home Mac or PC if you use their Desktop version. Its like having all your important notes, reminders, and lists in one location reachable from where ever you happen to be.
*Premium also available for more bandwidth and storage

If you Geocache then the Official Geocaching App ($9.99) is a must for you. Its a
full featured Geocaching application with the ability to pull up nearby caches, load pocket queries, view cache details, and see posted pictures. Once you've picked a cache to try it can use the iPhone's built in GPS and Compass (3GS and 4 only) to guide you right to the cache location. Then when you've found the cache you can log field notes and directly upload them as your log to the Geocaching site logging your find in your profile.

If you're a runner you might like MapMyRun+ ($4.99) [or the free MapMyRun] MapMyRun tracks your running by plotting your path on the map using the
iPhone's built in GPS. The app keeps up with your current and average min/mile, average speed, and your start and finish times. When finished with your run you can then choose to make the run Public or Private by uploading it to their server to share with your friends. It also has the ability to send updates to your Twitter or Facebook page. They have various levels of accounts on the MapMyRun site but I've been quite happy with the free account type. I did upgrade to the MapMyRun+ app instead of the free MayMyRun so I could get in-app music controls but that's not necessary if you don't listen to music when you run. They also have a MapMyRide application for bike riders that want to do the same tracking.
NOTE: Thanks Dave for the recommendation on this app. I use it every run and am loving it.

Ever been out at a store and see something you want and have this nagging feeling you've seen it cheaper somewhere else nearby? Redlaser can help. Redlaser uses the iPhone's camera to snap a picture of the items barcode then it deciphers the data and performs an online search for that exact same item. It then shows you the prices of the same item online as well as nearby locations that it can find a price for (based on your location). I mainly use it for remembering stuff that I know I want to order online rather than pay an overpriced fee in a store. Redlaser has saved me tons of money since it came out.
NOTE: Redlaser was recently purchased by e-bay so what is to become of it and what its features will mutate into are yet to be disclosed by e-bay.

If you're into Instant Messaging and want to still be able to IM your friends while you're on the go then its worth the $9.99 to get BeeJiveIM for the iPhone. BeeJiveIM was one of the first to take advantage of Apple's Push service and allow your application to be closed yet still receive notices when your friends IM you. BeeJiveIM is a full featured IM Client allowing you to set up all of your accounts into one IM Client instead of multiple clients. With just this one client you can IM with your AOL, YIM, MSN, etc... friends while on the go.

Of course your iPhone wouldn't be complete without the Official Facebook App.
Gain full access to your Facebook profile and friends. Upload pictures, update your status, send and receive messages, respond to friend request, and comment on friends pictures and post. All the features of Facebook are available on the website are available in the application. A must have for Facebook junkies :)

These are just a few of the slew of applications that I have on my iPhone4 today. Mashable has a huge list of over 700 app reviews that you might also find useful for categories I did not cover. Feel free to hit me up if there is a particular app type you are looking for and I'll be glad to recommend what I use for that need (if I have one) or I'll do some searching and find one to fit your needs and let you know what to try.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Now we know why they invented "Bumpers"

So the Geeks Are Sexy blog posted an article about the new iPhone4 and what appears to be a major flaw in its construction or design.

If you're right handed you typically talk on the iPhone with the phone in your left hand. Doing this puts the lower left metal border of the iPhone4 in contact with your thumb muscles of your palm. When this contact occurs you can watch your signal strength go from Full bars 3G down to nothing (Searching....) When you let go and move your skin away from the lower left of the phone metal border the signal returns.

I have personally tried this experiment and performed the test and can confirm that it is indeed true. I was able to observe the signal drop and loss just like in the video.

Conveniently though, use of the new Apple "Bumpers" on the iPhone negates this effect by putting a layer of plastic and rubber between your skin and the metal iPhone4 border parts. Thus this leads one to the assumption that this is why Apple suddenly decided to enter the "case" market with Bumpers.

Come on Apple! This is the type of shit we routinely get and expect from Microsoft, not you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Like" or "Dislike"

Geek Sugar recently posted a question to twitter asking Should Facebook have a "Dislike" button too?

My response is WHY? WHY do people insist on having a "Dislike" button?

Last year I got into a discussion on Facebook with a guy I knew in High School about this same subject. He had posted the same copy/paste that I had seen going around at the time. It was something like "Post this in your status if you want a Dislike button, we need 1,000,000 people to make this happen" so I responded asking why. Why did he feel the need to express his dislike of something someone posted when he could simply ignore it and move on. Ignoring something by NOT clicking "Like" or commenting on it is effectively a "Dislike" since you were so indifferent to it you chose to not "Like" it. He argued that ignoring it wasn't the same because he wanted to be able to express his dislike of what some people post. Eventually he quit answering me after I kept pointing out flaws in his logic and shooting holes in his hate veiled as an excuse. Put simply, he wanted a method to express his anger, hatred, or contempt for stuff that people post but he didn't want to go to the effort to actually comment or talk to the person. Pretty pathetic huh?

Now, as Geek Sugar points out, the point of her post is not for a general "Dislike" but more of a situation where you don't want to "Like" your friends post about their cat dying but you want a simple one click solution to show your dislike of the situation showing your sympathy for them. This idea is a noble one and one that would normally be ok but lets face it, 99.99999% of people that would use the "Dislike" button are not so noble. They want a "Dislike" button so they can express their opinion and disapproval of your post. Like the guy from high school, these same people lack the courage to post a comment and enter into a discussion on whatever the subject is that they "Dislike" or they'd already be doing that. They want a simple, anonymous, button to click to push their opinion on you in an effort to belittle your post or establish their self-perceived superiority over your post/opinion.

A "Dislike" button would lead to nothing but abuse by those without the strength to own up to their own opinions. If someone keeps posting shit you don't like, unfriend them or hide their updates. Stop asking for a tool to try and oppress peoples updates and opinions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And so it begins...

Today began my training for the Disney Inaugural Wine and Dine Half Marathon scheduled for October 2nd later this year. This was the first time in I don't remember how long that I've actually run and something wasn't chasing me. I went 1.78mi and took 27:38 to do it averaging 15;32/mi and 3.9mph. To me that just plain sucks but others are telling me its not too bad for a first day. My hope is that once I shed some of this extra weight I'll actually enjoy running more than I do now. My shins and lower legs are the part of me that can't seem to take the running for long stretches. I'm only stopping to walk when my legs need a breather. I feel good that I didn't give up and even though I walked every 1/4-1/3 mile I pushed through and did the complete loop at Lenora Park plus a little bit.
If you like to check in on my pain and progress you can peek at my MapMyRun Profile from time to time and see how I'm doing or poke me if I'm not doing enough.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

HeroesCon 2010


I took a road trip this weekend with my buddy Joe Peacock to Heroes Con in Charlotte NC. Joe invited me along since I'd never been and we're both comic book geeks of various eras. Joe was going because he was giving a talk on his Art of Akira exhibit discussing the importance of Akira in animation history, its attention to detail, and its sparking the Anime boom in the United States. I learned quite a lot from his talk. Akira was truly a phenomenal piece of work that has never been surpassed in the same medium. It was a great talk and presentation that will be on youtube as soon as he gets the video we took cut down and edited.

After Joe's talk we hit the floor to experience Heroes Con. I've been out of the comic book collecting world for at least 20 years so it was very interesting to see so little has changed. The main difference now is that I actually know people that draw some of the mainstream published comics. (DC/Marvel stuff) Being able to see them and meet friends of friends and chat with them was incredibly cool and a lot of fun.
Outside of the people I already knew, I was thrilled to be able to finally meet Danielle Corsetto of Girls With Slingshots. I've been reading her comic for years and its one of my daily reads that I never miss. I got a signed book one from her and hung out for a few minutes chatting. She was every bit as cool and friendly as I pictured she'd be and I was really glad to meet her. Next to her was Erika Moen of I hadn't had the pleasure of discovering Erika's work online or meeting her before but I'm glad I made her acquaintance. I had a great time chatting with her and am looking forward to catching up on her comic and work. We exchanged stories on our tattoos and their meanings and just had a few minutes of general chit chat. She was really cool. I could see hanging out with both ladies and friends having beers and shooting the shit one day. That's how cool and friendly both Danielle and Erika were. I am glad to have met them in person.

After HeroesCon wound to a close for the day we hooked up with some twitter friends of Joe and went to The Penguin Drive In. It was a nice small place not far from downtown with good beer and decent grub. The atmosphere and hanging out with new friends is what made it a really great night out. We had beers, met new people, and shared various stories (carjacking anyone?). If Joe and I hadn't planned for just a day trip we would have definitely stayed around longer and hit a few more night spots to continue the fun. Sadly though we had to bail before the next stop and begin our trek home.

Overall it was a really great road trip. Joe and I had many excellent and random topic conversations on the road jumping from topic to topic as happens when you get geeks together. Same thing happened at dinner at The Penguin.

I'll definitely be going and get a room for HeroesCon next year.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lyrical memories

Its funny how a song can trigger a memory. Just now I'm listening to a song and was reminded of a funny question posed by Logan when he was 4(ish). I'm working in the garage playing some tunes and he's goofing off with sidewalk chalk and Summer Sunshine by The Corrs comes on. One of the lyrics is "i'll kiss you and nobody needs to know." That lyric plays and Logan looks up and ask me "Daddy, if nobody needs to know why is she singing about it?" To this day I still chuckle when I hear that song. His cute question still plays in my mind every time that lyric is heard.

Good times....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Once a Year Flea Market

I am sad to say that I believe the annual small town craft show and festival has become a severely endangered species. It was once an event to look forward to as an opportunity to see handcrafted wares and items. Sadly that is no longer so. The part that is endangered is handcrafted. These events are slowly becoming more and more populated with bulk ordered crap ordered off the internet. Fading are the days where every vendor hand crafted and created their products and wares. Sure there are a few vendors that still do that but their numbers are diminishing year after year. They are the true crafters. The people that live and breath their craft out of love and a desire to create. Many have full time jobs and do their craft as a hobby but some do their craft full time and try to make a living from it. Rising Craft Festival "booth fees" and poorly planned festivals have pushed many of them to give up or start cherry picking the few festivals they want to do and are worth their time.

What's that you say? "Whoa, wait a minute there chief. What makes a techno-geek like you qualified to comment on craft shows?"

I'm glad you asked.

My mom has been a craft person for as long as I can remember. In the early days she did woodworking crafts. You know the kind. Wood cut outs shaped like baseball gloves with a ball, bat, and glove holding hook sicking out of it to mount on the wall. Cut outs of tractors and other farm related shapes for hanging on walls. Stuff like that. They were, of course, all either stained a nice color or hand painted. She evolved that into some really cool 3D creations of ducks and swans made with layers of wood and then hand carved, sanded and shaped to be the form desired. Her grand creation at that time was a huge swan that made it into a magazine or two. We'd spend our weekends traveling from Craft Show to Craft Show setting up and taking down and spending the day showing her creations. Back then the shows were very picky and the items had to be hand made BY THE ARTIST showing the items. Some people did their craft on site and customized items where others like my mom just made the items at home and showed/sold them at the show. The point is EVERYONE hand made their items. Over the years the wood working type of craft slowed in popularity and mom hung up her craft side business for a while. She didn't give up completely. She just took a break for a few years. Now she makes unique gourd art by growing, harvesting, drying, cutting and carving, hand staining and painting her own Gourds.

So that's why I feel I'm qualified to comment on the current state of the annual craft show and festival. Most of them are becoming CRAP compared to what they once were.
Gone are the days where booths were reasonable in their fees.
Gone are the days where the festival planners actually required their vendors to hand craft or make their wares.
Gone are the days of submitting photo samples of your craft for review and acceptance.
Today any John or Jane Doe can order a shit load of pre-printed wash cloths and set up a booth at the festival. Today people can go to Wal-Mart and bulk purchase goofy face mass produced flower pots, slap some paint on them and call them "crafts". Today people can bulk order mass produced art and sell it as if it were their own. Today people can purchase just about anything they want at Wal-Mart and show up at a "craft" show and sell it. That's not a craft show, thats called a Flea Market.

I still go to local festivals but I'm starting to be selective of the ones that I visit. I like the environment and the opportunity to hit the local business booths and see what goods and services I might be missing out on. I'm just annoyed that so little effort is put into the vendor selection process these days. I'm annoyed when I hear how much some festivals think of themselves based on their "booth fee" or even worse, the ones that want a cut of your business done that day on top of a booth fee.

Festivals don't cost half as much as they lead you to believe. I'm sure there are expenses involved and I'm sure someone can come scream at me with balance sheets to prove to me its expensive but there are some things I know for sure. They use local boy scout and/or explorer post for parking the cars (FREE). They use public parks or areas that aren't in use anyway (FREE). Most non-food vendors don't require Power. Most established festivals already have set dates annually so advertising is just a matter of reminding people and can be traded for booth space with businesses that can advertise for the festival (local paper, local sign companies, etc..) (Equal BARTER). Radio Stations can also trade for advertising mentions and the opportunity to set up and broadcast/sponsor the festival.
What then is the $100-$250+ per booth space fee going for? Such high booth fees make it that much harder for an honest hand crafting vendor to justify attending the festival. That and they risk being put next to Billy Bob and his collection of bulk ordered NASCAR collector plates, hats and jackets or placed across from the lady selling fuzzy photo frames she got on discount at Wal-Mart last thursday. Its hard to compete when the Flea Market crowd is dragging overall price expectations down with their booths of crap.

The list of festivals I'll actually spend my time on is getting shorter and shorter every year and today I added another one to the list. There are still some good vendors that show up at this festival but I'm tired of wading through the sea of crap to maybe find a booth worth stopping at. Festivals use to take me a good 1/2 day to walk through and experience. Today I think it took me all of 30-45 minutes to see the entire festival.

Good Bye Snellville Days, its been fun these past 10 years I've lived here but you've gone down hill every year for the past 3 or 4 years. I'm done giving you part of my Saturday and getting nothing of value in return. Let me know if you get your act together.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Video Game Pin? Seriously??

Looks like the Cub Scouts have given up. They now offer a Belt Loop Award for Playing Video Games. Are they NUTS?!?! What genius came up with this idea? The ENTIRE concept of Scouting is to get off your ass and get out in Nature and explore, learn, and experience new things OUTSIDE.

What's next? A Belt Loop or Merit Badge for Watching TV? I wonder what the requirements of that one would be?

Requirements for Sit On Your Ass and Watch TV

Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts may complete requirements in a family, den, pack, school, or community environment. Tiger Cubs must work with their parents or adult partners. Parents and partners do not earn loops or pins.

Belt Loop

Complete these three requirements:

  1. Explain why it is important to have a rating system for TV Shows. Check your TV Shows to be sure they are right for your age (most probably aren't but that's ok, all your friends watch them too).
  2. With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and Sitting On Your Ass Watching TV. Do your best to follow this schedule.
  3. Learn to Sit On Your Ass and Watch TV with a show that is approved by your parent, guardian, teacher, or is really popular at school so you don't fall behind the social curve.

Academics Pin

Earn the Sit On Your Ass and Watch TV belt loop and complete five of the following requirements:

  1. With your parents, create a plan to watch a TV show that is right for your age group
  2. Compare two TV Shows (for example, Spongebob Squarepants, iCarly, Ben 10 and so on). Explain some of the differences between the two. List good reasons to watch the show
  3. Gather and prepare snacks and beverages for consumption while sitting on your ass watching TV
  4. Teach an adult or a friend how to sit on their ass and watch a TV Show
  5. List at least five tips that would help someone who was watching a TV Show keep from spilling their snacks in the Sofa Cushions
  6. Sit on your ass and watch a TV Show with a friend for one hour
  7. Watch a TV Show that mentions math, science, or physical education at least once in the show (NOTE: The actors don't have to actually do any of the listed topics, just mention them).
  8. Choose a TV Show DVD Season Set you might like to purchase. Compare the price for it at three different stores. Decide which store has the best deal. In your decision, be sure to consider things like the distance to the store and availability of close parking to prevent too much walking
  9. With an adult's supervision, hook up a DVR so you can have lots of TV Shows archived to sit on your ass and watch later
I mean seriously? Is this what Scouting has become?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Being a Dad changes you

Becoming a Dad was one of the greatest events in my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything. No matter how ornery my son gets, no matter how angry he makes me sometimes, no matter what or how much of my stuff he destroys in a moment of little boy "opps" or "its a project!", no matter anything. He's the best thing ever.


I've noticed that becoming a Dad has changed me. I guess it was inevitable but I didn't think it would be this noticeable to myself. Every Dad's view of the world changes when suddenly they have a son or daughter to begin looking after and protecting. Things in movies and TV that used to not bother me, bug the shit out of me now.

I'm not talking about a TV show that says FUCK! alot. I don't give a shit about that. My son knows what "adult words" are and he knows not to use them. I'm sure he is secretly excited and looking forward to the day when he grows up and can use them around me without getting in trouble. Just as I'm sure he uses select versions of them when its just him and his buddies, just like we all did when we were young. Any parent that doesn't think their child curses when its just their friends around is deluding themselves. Kids cuss, it's just part of growing up. Learning when and where its appropriate is also a part of growing up. No, shows that curse and use crude humor don't bother me. I actually prefer shows that have people acting like real live instead of shows that try to sugar coat family life like nobody ever curses. Its not really shows that bug me. Its some of the content and topics.

I find myself uneasy when the show deals with the death or crime against children or deals with the loss of a child (even if the death is part of the past storyline).

I love Stargate SG-1. If you've seen my arm you'd know just how much I love Stargate. I think my first indication of "change" came when I was re-watching Episode 106 - Cold Lazarus. There is a flashback scene where O'Neil remembers the accidental death of his son. (Charlie found Jack's gun and was playing with it with awful results.)

  • We see Jack run toward Sara who is sitting on the steps to the house. He embraces and kisses her.

  • JACK: How was your day?
  • SARA: Fine...oh, look what came home from school today.
  • *She reaches down and grabs Charlie's school pictures
  • JACK: Charlie about ready?
  • SARA: Yeah, he was running around her a few minutes ago...
  • *A loud Bang is heard...the gunshot. Jack and Sara turn to look at the bedroom window.
  • SARA (yells): Charlie!
That gunshot made my blood run ice cold. It still does today.

That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about. Having a child changes your perspective. What once didn't bother you suddenly hits home.

I have to say I didn't see that coming. Still wouldn't trade it for the world.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Downward is more like it

I had the opportunity to go to my Nephew's Basketball game the other day. He played really well and is having a good time with it. Unfortunately its with the "Upward" program that is sweeping through all the churches around here. Soccer and Basketball "leagues" that seem to focus more on having the kids memorize bible verses than actually teach them the sport they came to learn and play. This game they were playing another Upward team that hadn't won a single game and were still trying to figure out how to play as a team. Apparently the "Refs" (preachers) decided before the game that since the other team was sucking so bad they wouldn't keep score for this game. In addition to this stupidity the "refs" also decided to call penalties and fouls against the better (my nephew's) team and blatantly ignore the other team and their obvious fouls. One kid on the other team stops dribbling mid-court, holds the ball a moment, and the starts dribbling again. An obvious double-dribble violation and both "refs", who were looking right at him, ignore the foul and let play continue. A few moments later they call a traveling foul on my nephew's team when a kid is going for a lay-up. He did not travel, period.
What the hell is this pathetic excuse of a program teaching these kids? If you are weak and lacking in skills the refs will always bend the rules for you so your inner child doesn't get its teeny tiny widdle heart hurt? What a load of horse shit! These kids aren't learning anything about the real game of basketball. They are learning bad habits and that when they need improvement the refs will punish the other team to help them.
The "refs" should be ashamed of themselves and either ref the game according to the official rules or stay in the stands and out of the ref buisiness. From what I've heard talking to many parents this is a trend with the Upward program making it pretty much useless for any real experience and lessons.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

End Users

It never fails. Every day at least one person accuses me of "standing in their way" and "stopping them from doing their job". What they don't understand is that it's my JOB to get in their way. The tools and devices I manage are DESIGNED to stop certain things from happening until requested, justified, approved and implemented. Sadly though, end users are incapable of understanding the larger picture. They expect the Internet to be as open to them at work as it is from their virus-laden, bot-net participating, busted ass home PC. When they hit a block to a restricted category they immediately start the accusations and bitching and whining. When I see their little rant-fest this is the only image of them that comes to mind

Waaaaaaaa I can't hit Facebook!!!
You're stopping me from doing my job!!!!!!

Some users go to extreme detail explaining to me what Facebook is. They explain it like I've never even heard of it. They detail why its important to the company and why they need access "to contact customers" or "get important contact information". Yet many times, the URL captured by the block page (yes we see EVERYTHING you morons) is a link to the Farmville Facebook App or some other useless Facebook GAME. They actually think we're stupid and can't see what they were doing when they got blocked. One mental giant actually accused us of "holding up Millions of dollars of potential revenue" because he couldn't get to Facebook. He got his access but I'm still waiting to hear about the "Millions of dollars" he was going to bring into the company.

Facebook and Social Networking is the New Frontier for businesses these days. In the current social environment, a business that isn't on Facebook or Twitter is really missing out on many customer service opportunities. Society, via the Internet and Social Networking, has evolved to a state of instant news and information and people expect more from the companies they choose to do business with. Companies that once ignored and banned access to Social Networking are now beginning to embrace it so they can take advantage of those opportunities. This is a good thing. Its about time that businesses caught up and figured out what us geeks have known about for years. Just don't go around acting like its the only reason you have for being in your position and the world will end if you can't get to Myspace. Your screaming little rant-fest just makes me laugh and gets you pushed to the bottom of the queue.

Be nice or be last

Thursday, February 11, 2010

If you call it Face book then you don't deserve the access

Something came up today that made me think. Its funny how the older, out of touch people (ie: execs/directors/managers) suddenly need access to the tools and applications of today (social media), yet they don't understand even a fraction of what its all about or even how to use it. All they know is its the "hip cool thing" now and they need access to it to figure out how to make MILLIONS from it. I shit you not, I had a request that once accused me of holding up millions in potential revenue because some guy couldn't get to

There is a reason that tv shows and commercials poke fun at executives that are clueless about their own company. Its well deserved.

I'm sure one day I'll be, in some fashion, in that same boat with something that is new and for a younger generation. Of course that will only happen if someone figures out a way to zap the geek gene out of my DNA and then locks me in a cave for a decade but it could happen, maybe.

Until then, its Facebook, not Face book you outdated old fossil

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Angry Youth

I was leaving my neighborhood today and something bizarre and quite rude happened to me.

I grew up, for lack of a better description, in the country. I measured distance from friends houses in miles instead of blocks. Out in the country, when you are driving or riding around and you see someone its just common to wave or raise a few fingers off the steering wheel in a small form of greeting. Its a reflex and something that took me a long time to get out of doing once I moved into a more "city" environment. I don't do it anymore when I'm driving around but do find myself do it on occasion when I'm back on the home turf where I grew up.
When we moved into a neighborhood, my waving habit returned. Most of the people I see walking on the sidewalks or streets of my neighborhood are either people I know or just neighbors I've yet to meet. Most of the time it's their children or teenagers. I drive past them making sure to keep an eye out for the random smaller child or family pet in case one darts my way and as I pass I smile and wave. They are my neighbors so I see no harm in this. I've done this for over 9 years and haven't had any issues. Sure some people just give me that blank stare of "Do I know you?" with a look of trying to remember where they know me from then they just go back to what they were doing. Most of the teenagers and kids just smile and some wave back. The ones that are too cool to wave and smile just give me the up-nod of recognition and go about their business.

Until today that is.... Today I'm driving out and make my turn on to the main street and see a teenager up ahead. Its time for the High Schoolers to be getting home and I'm on my way to pick up Logan so there is nothing odd about a solo teenager walking the street. I get closer and give a small wave and a smile and keep going. As I pass the lil punk/thug wannabe I hear "Wha chu wavin at Cracker?"

HUH? Cracker? Seriously? What is that little shits problem?

I glance in the rear view mirror and see him still walking away from me not looking back. Then I notice the 'angry' walk he was doing. His body language was screaming "I think I'm a bad ass and I'm mad at the world!". I refrained from slamming on the brakes and having a discussion with him about manners and keeping your mouth shut when you're the one walking in the street without a bumper or airbag between you and oncoming cars. Part of me wanted to go back and stomp some manners into his lil punk ass. That part was overruled by the more rational part of me, you know the part that reminds you that getting blood out of hiking boots is a REAL pain and they're new boots so lets not muck them up with the blood of some thug wannabe. I kept on driving but was rather confused at what this kids problem was that he needed to speak out when he could have just kept walking in angry silence.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad (Don't blame me, I didn't name it)

I sat with eager anticipation today waiting for the Apple Event to start. In between working on various request and emails for my day job I refreshed and watched the tech sites as they prepped for the event. Speculation ran rampant on what was to come. Leo Laporte was live streaming/blogging from the event on Twit TV with Alex Lindsay manning the fort back at the Twit Cottage. His live audio feed made the event quite enjoyable because while the audio was working I didn't have to wait for Engadget or Gizmodo to refresh. Steve Jobs came out and announced the successes of Apple over the past year and then let us in on Apple's newest invention. The iPad. Yeah, I know. Twitter is already flooded with #ipadpuns and I'm sure they'll just get worse and more frequent over the next few weeks.

My impression of the iPad, in a nutshell, is that its a 9.7in diagonal screen version of the Touch. I can see this device establishing itself in the market as a great e-reader and a Kindle killer over time. The base model is not much more than a Kindle and you get 10times the power and capabilities as the Kindle. With the Kindle iPhone/iPad App available in the App Store, purchasing a Kindle now would simply be stupid. Don't shoot me if you have a Kindle. You most likely purchased it before today so you're not stupid. Just unlucky.

The CEO of McGraw-Hill has already spilled the beans that they are working closely with Apple on getting more and more books onto the iPad. Apple today launched iBooks and is working with publishers to get the prices to be reasonable and affordable. Imagine carrying your entire library of favorites or all your textbooks in one device for instant and immediate reference anywhere you are.

As disappointed as I am in the iPad's lack of a front facing webcam and video conferencing features. I am thrilled to see Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek PADD (Personal Access Display Device) take form in the iPad. The future of data access is devices like the iPad. The Kindle tried but in my opinion, failed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Weather DefCon 3: High French Toast Alert

What is it about Georgia that the mere mention of Snow sends everyone into a panic?

Its absolutely insane. All the weatherman has to do is mention "chance of flurries" and everyone immediately rushes out and depletes all local grocery stores of Bread, Milk, and Eggs. I guess, while isolated and pinned behind a massive inch or two of snow, everyone goes into survival mode and makes French Toast. What else are you going to do with those ingredients? I would think that the point of "stocking up" for a "blizzard" would mean gathering items that could be used/consumed without the use of electricity. What exactly can you do with Bread, Milk, and Eggs without electricity? Sure you can have Cereal. IF it was on your list when you went to raid the grocery store. You could drink the Milk but that wouldn't really satisfy a hunger for long. You could make a sandwich providing, once again, that other sandwich materials were on your list. Eggs are pretty much useless without electricity or a heat source for cooking. Unless you're Rocky that is. I just don't get it. The entire OMG WTF PANIC!!!!! attitude is just stupid. I swear the local weathermen own stock or have some other vested interest in the Grocery Industry and cry SNOW!!!! whenever they need a boost to their portfolio. ;-)

No worries though. I've got firewood and plenty of food other than milk, bread, and eggs so bring it on Mother Nature.