Saturday, June 30, 2007


My dad, the same guy who got an iMac last Thanksgiving, has just taken another monumental step in his adoption of technology.

He checked his cell phone's voicemail.

You may not think that's too big a deal, but he had messages on there from 2006.

Dad, I'm proud of you.

Flight tracker

Sometimes I'm stuck by the technology available to us. I remembered I needed to pick my dad up at the airport this morning. He e-mailed me his flight information yesterday so I opened Dashboard and the Flight Tracker widget. In less than 15 seconds I knew when his plane left, when it's going to arrive, the elevation and speed the plane is flying as well as its geographic location over the earth. All updated in real time.

When you stop and think about that, it's really remarkable. I am certainly one who's been known to get caught up in the "next big thing", but what impresses me even more is when I stop and realize that what we already have really is mind-boggling.

Friday, June 29, 2007

iPhone lines in Utah

While people on the East Coast already have their grubby little mitts on the iPhone, folks here in Utah still have over an hour until they can do the same. I just meandered my way over to The Gateway to see what kind of lines had formed outside the Apple and Cingular stores (no, it's not yet AT&T out here in boondocks Salt Lake.)

I counted about 40 people outside the Apple Store. The first guy in line said he got here 15 hours ago which would put it at about 1:00 yesterday afternoon.
Surprisingly, there were a few more people lined up outside Cingular. I counted 48. 101.5 The Eagle had a remote crew there and Cingular employees were handing out bottles of water to those waiting in the 100 degree weather. There was also a camera crew from PCTV (Park City TV) interviewing some of the people waiting with another news crew inside the actual store.

The crowd in both locations was an eclectic bunch, with general descriptions ranging from Apple Fanboy/Nerd to Poodle Girls. Hey, whatever floats your boat guys.

Results are in: I'm addicted to blogging

89%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Of course, I have no idea what that means, but it sounds serious.

How addicted are you? Take the test here.

Bald eagles back from the brink

With only 417 nesting pair left in the 1940's, the bald eagle has been removed from the endangered species list and is thriving with about 10,000 pair living throughout the U.S.

This is a great example of what can be done for the environment if people will stand behind a cause.

Thanks to USA Today for the pic.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Don't bother reading the initial iPhone reviews

I'll summarize them here: it's marvelous, amazing and everything they hoped it would be except for...

- Basic phone features: speed dialing, picture messaging, voice dialing etc.

- The virtual keyboard takes some getting used to.

- AT&T's network. Not only is viewing web pages suicidally slow, call quality was average at best when tested in several states. (AT&T ranked the lowest in 19 out of 20 states for call quality. So WHY did they choose AT&T??)

There you have it. I spent hours combing over the initial reviews and reports so you wouldn't have to. It's just my way of saying, "I love you."

The 1,457,119,764,001st online article about the iPhone

Boing Boing has before and after iPhone hand models. The newer hand is, one would assume, to make the iPhone look smaller.

That's not what I'm interested in (I already know the dimensions of the iPhone are about those of a 30 gig 5G iPod). Instead, I'm wondering who that hand model was who got to fondle that sweet piece of hardware weeks in advance of it being announced.

Or did he?

Do you think Apple would entrust the knowledge of such a top-secret product to a hand model? Or do you think the guy got called in, held a piece of plastic the same dimensions as the iPhone and they Photoshopped the actual device in later? I'm interested to hear your point of view in the comments.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Better than lead to gold

Unlike this guy, Purdue scientists have found a way to turn water into hydrogen without an external power source.

And like so many brilliant advances, it happened by accident.

"I was cleaning a crucible containing liquid alloys of gallium and aluminum," said Purdue University professor Jerry Woodall. "When I added water to this alloy--talk about a discovery--there was a violent poof. I went to my office and worked out the reaction in a couple of hours to figure out what had happened."

CNET explains some of the hurdles that have stood in the way of hydrogen going mainstream:

Many of the major automakers, including Honda, and General Motors, have invested heavily in developing fuel cell-powered cars. However, to date hydrogen has faced significant obstacles to becoming a viable alternative to gasoline, principally the expensive (and often carbon-fueled) process of isolating it, and the lack of a fueling infrastructure. The Purdue development has the potential to address both of these issues.

Sure enough, the quest for hydrogen that can be produced in vehicles is a bit like a dream of modern alchemy. It looks like the scientists at Purdue have had the eureka! moment they were looking for.

Of course, if this does go mainstream, the price of oil will drop significantly. Still, a pollution-free way to power our vehicles without building new infrastructure and completely severing our reliance on foreign oil? Jackpot. If I owned the patents, I'd license it out while retaining ownership. Dang. Talk about big bucks. BILLIONS.

Instead, maybe I'll invest in aluminum.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Who Killed the Electric Car? is an interesting documentary about the rise and fall of the electric car in the 1990's.

California passed a zero emissions mandate in 1990 requiring automakers to make a certain percentage of their fleets zero emissions by a certain date, due mainly to the horrid and very unhealthy air quality conditions in California.

The General Motors' EV1 was an electric car that met those standards.

Getting around 100 miles per charge, it was more than adequate for most people's daily driving needs. "Filling up" the car was done by plugging it in either at home or at a charging station around town.

It cost about a third as much to charge it as it would have to buy a comparable amount of gas and it took about 50 EV1s to create as much pollution as one gasoline powered car.

Then came the opposition. California's zero emission mandate was repealed after heavy lobbying from automakers, the petroleum industry and the White House. GM took back all the EV1s when their leases expired, despite the begging and pleading from their owners to extend their lease or to even buy the car.

A short while later, 78 EV1s were discovered in a fenced-in parking lot behind a GM office building. EV1 drivers got together, collected money and offered GM a check for $1.9 million to take the cars they were planning on scrapping anyway. GM refused.

There's a lot more to the documentary, including what GM did and didn't do to promote the cars, what people had to do to actually lease them (one guy had to wait six weeks despite the fact that the car he wanted was just sitting there on the lot) as well as exploring who the culprits were behind the death of the electric car.

One of the more interesting culprits, they say, is hydrogen. Despite the success and demand for the EV1, automakers, The White House and the oil industry lobbied against it in favor of hydrogen powered vehicles. While that may not sound so terrible, the theory of using hydrogen to power cars is a little like saying you're going to turn lead into gold. It takes a lot of money and energy to create hydrogen and if it were to ever become wide-spread it would require an entirely new distribution infrastructure. And that's exactly why automakers, the oil industry and good ol' boy George W. (aren't those synonymous?) are promoting it: appear to be trying to do something good when you think it will never take off.

Most of the hour and a half-long movie is interesting and thought-provoking, although there are a couple scenes where environmental activists do things that make me think, "That's why people don't take you seriously." Like having a funeral service for a car. Other than that, it's definitely worth the cost of the rental.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Carson Daly's hot

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac

Has anybody heard a release date? Has it been pushed back because of Leopard? Leave word in the comments.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

No consensus

I sent out text message to some friends of mine asking them what I should blog about. Here are the responses:

"You're the blogger...I mean...doesn't being a blogger intrinsically mean that you have things to blog about? So what are you asking me for?" - Ryan

" good it is to have a real job." - Brad

"Your coolest sister in law ever. jk. how about the smart cars?" - Heido

"My bday!" - Neil

"You didn't ask me. I would have told you to write a blog post regarding the Japanese influence on polka dancing. Or something educational like that." - Erin

"About the progression of communication. Our grandparents never dreamed we'd be communicating like this." - Michael

Ryan - No.
Brad - It is nice. I do like my job quite a bit.
Heidi - I'll have to think that one over.
Neil - I'll be honest. I had no idea it was your birthday.
Erin - So far as I can tell, none.
Michael - Interesting idea.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Great Coke ad

Coke has not only some good ads, but the music they use is also excellent. It's an element that's overlooked all too often in advertising. Heck, if they turned this into a full-length song I'd buy it on iTunes. There have been a few other tracks to Coke commercials I've liked just as well, but haven't been able to find them yet. I'll post them if I do.

Can you think of ads you've seen with great soundtracks? Leave word in the comments.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Digg down has been like this for at least eight hours now.

Did it crash? Did someone take it down? Or are Kevin and his gang working furiously behind the scenes to unleash some new feature? Has anybody heard anything? Leave word in the comments.

Update: it's back up. According to their blog they were working on back end stuff and a new comments system.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Life consumed

As many of you know, life has a new member and all time and energies have been suddenly focused on our new addition. Not wanting to turn this into a sappy, "I'm such a proud dad" blog, I've refrained from writing much here about life with Jake. (I keep such gushings and cooings in my personal journal.)

And so, it would seem, I don't have much to write about at the moment.

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

I've had a short correspondence with They've offered to put me on their roll to review products, services, websites, etc.. Any initial thoughts about that idea?

My first Father's Day

My Father's Day card:

My wife absolutely cracks me up. She made my first Father's Day a great one, despite working a lot harder at being a mom than I do at being a dad.

I placed my order and my 2 gigs of Macbook RAM should arrive sometime this week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

RIP Mr. Wizard

Don Herbert, known to you an me as Mr. Wizard, passed away yesterday at the age of 89.

I remember watching reruns of his show in Nickelodeon and in classes at school. The dancing spaghetti? Classic.

Thanks for the memories Mr. Wiz.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Top Secret Features" my butt

The short version: If the Finder and Desktop enhancements had been the lesser of the new features instead of the only new features, it would have been a good keynote.

Hey Steve! Talk about a Time Machine! Remember this? It's last year's WWDC when you said you had a lot of cool, "Top Secret" stuff you were putting in Leopard, but couldn't show us because you didn't want "Redmond" to rip it off. Then you showed us a few cutesy things like how to make your own widgets and how you can use iChat video with backdrops.

"Oooo! Look at me! I'm underwater!"

Spaces and Time Machine kept us pacified until January when you said Leopard would be out before Vista. It's a year later and we're all stoked about your promise that, "Leopard will be worth the wait."

Guess what? It wasn't. Excuse me. Allow me to correct my grammar. It ISN'T. (It's still not out.)

Of your Ten Features, half were rehashed from last year's conference. (Pardon me if I don't wet myself over Safari on Windows.) Did you really expect us to get excited about widgets again?

A Finder revamp? Excellent. New desktop features? Wonderful. And...? Where are the "Top Secret Features"?

My birthday is in October. I'd wanted Leopard but now a pony sounds better.

WWDC impressions thus far

Stevie J. must be in some kind of Time Machine because this is sounding a LOT like last year's WWDC. C'mon...widgets? iChat? Spaces? These things have been up on Apple's website for MONTHS.


Friday, June 08, 2007

WWDC, .Mac and Google aps

I almost forgot. Apple's WWDC is Monday.

In addition to Leopard's "top secret features", I'm also anxious to see what Stevie J. will announce about .Mac.

I hope he gets rid of it. Everything .Mac does, Google does (but better and free). The exception is iDisk, though with rumbles of "Platypus" (GDrive) and 20 MB Gmail attachments, that's not much of an issue.

All Apple needs to do is make iLife Gears-friendly.

For example, iWeb would publish to Blogger. iPhoto would sync/upload directly to Picasa (better than the current plugin) and, ideally, Flickr. iCal and Address Book would sync with Google Calendar.

This person wrote an interesting article about the integration of .Mac and Google Docs. I disagree with some of his points. You can already access Google Docs from anywhere, and Gears will soon make all of Google's apps available offline. So, why would you need .Mac? Of course, Apple could make iWork with Gears which would make your docs available online through Google Docs without cannibalizing either product.

Apple isn't offering anything unique in .Mac. And with free, online apps (all of Google's, for example) going offline, it provides a great opportunity for Apple create innovative ways to interact with these new web applications.

Say it how it is General

Radio interview quote from Marine Corps General Reinwald and a female radio host. He wants to host some boy scouts at the training center for some practice exercises:

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: So, General Reinwald, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?

GENERAL REINWALD: We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery, and shooting.

INTERVIEWER: Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?

GENERAL: I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range.

INTERVIEWER: Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?

GENERAL: I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.

INTERVIEWER: But you're equipping them to become violent killers.

GENERAL: Well, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?

The radio went silent and the interview ended.

Semper Fi baby.

Story courtesy of here.

UPDATE: Turns out the interview is a fake (see comments). Fake, yes, but still really funny.

Sign the online petition here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

One filing cabinet. 500 years of history.

Albin Schram passed away two years ago in the UK. Recently, an auctioneer from Christie's was summoned to his home where she was lead to a filing cabinet in Albin's laundry room. Inside she found, "A history in miniature of the last 500 years of western civilization and is the most remarkable collection [of letters]...for a generation or more."

Mr. Schram had quietly amassed a collection of letters that rivaled those in museums:

...a love letter by Napoleon; a diplomatic note to the king of France in the hand of Elizabeth I; a letter of condolence by John Donne; a tragic account written in 1545 by John Calvin, the theologian of the Reformation, about the suicide of a friend; and a withering letter by Charlotte Brontë on male shortcomings.

There was a letter by Beethoven, one by Albert Einstein, by Isaac Newton, Hemingway, Frederick the Great, Darwin, Voltaire, Lewis Carroll, Pushkin, Monet, Churchill, Gandhi, Defoe, Tchaikovsky and Dostoevsky.

The entire collection is said to be worth an estimated $3.9 million.

While there's much to be said about the find (the unique choice of storage, the value, the historical significance, etc.), the thing that struck me the most about it was the fact that these were hand written letters. At some point Napoleon sat down with that piece of paper and a quill and used his hand to pour his heart out to Josephine.

There is something inherently enchanting about handwritten communication, whether it be in a journal, letter or poem. There is so much more of the author in something that is written by their own hand rather than systematically pecked out into pixels.

I don't think the correspondence be worth as much, monetarily or otherwise, if they'd had e-mail back then.

I find it disheartening that the chances of someone down the road finding handwritten letters (let alone a whole filing cabinet full of them) from anyone in the early 21st Century is practically nil.

I propose that we take a little more time in how we communicate with others. Write a letter instead of dashing off a quick e-mail to a loved one. Sit down and write (not type) it out. Sure, it might take a little more time. But what is the purpose of writing in the first place, if not to infuse part of you into that which you write? Create something you, or your recipient, will cherish.

See the full story here.

Petie turns 100,000

Petie ("Peet-ee", spoken with an Australian accent), my 2000 Nissan Altima just passed the 100,000 mile mark.

Over the last six years Petie's value has depreciated considerably to a mere $5,380. But who can put a price on the memories we've shared? Truly, his value is incalcucable.

Here's to another 100,000 miles my friend.

And she's out

Paris is already out of jail and currently "paying her debt to society" while under house arrest in her West Hollywood mansion.

I have an idea. How about she pay her debt by letting ME live in her mansion?

Supposedly she had medical problems. Sure she has medical problems: looks like she's anorexic, a drunk, wildly promiscuous and stupid (if that is, in fact, a medical condition).

What a horrible precedent to set. An abysmal failure of our judicial system.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Pride cometh before the fall

The Consumerist relates a story about this billboard for a Chicago medical spa with a scantily clad woman on it. She's a little too "un-clad" and the community took up a petition to have it replaced. (Modesty Box added by Yours Truly.)

What gets me is the owner's arrogant, chauvinistic response (he's French), insisting the billboard appeals to his male clientèle:

"...This is a man's world. I don't want to sound cocky, but I'm so big in the business that if I lose a handful of clients, we'll get some new ones."

Since I work in advertising, I wish more clients would take risks. Generally speaking, if you aren't risking something you have very little to gain. However, flat-out saying, "I'm so good, I don't care if I lose customers," especially over advertising that is neither strategic nor conceptual, is a good way to do the latter: lose customers.

I really hope this guy goes down in flames.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Paris in prison

Paris is in prison. Granted, it took her a few steps to get there.

First she stopped by the MTV Movie Awards and walked the red carpet. Isn't that what everyone does before they go to jail?

Then she drove to the men's prison. There, they kindly explained that she was not a man and gave her directions to the women's prison.

At the women's prison she checked into the "special needs" unit (I'll bite my tongue), got that beautiful mug shot taken, and settled into her cell. Currently, she doesn't have a roommate.

CNN says, "Like other inmates in that unit, Hilton will take her meals in her cell and will be allowed outside the 12-foot-by-8-foot space for at least an hour each day to shower, watch TV in the day room, participate in outdoor recreation or talk on the telephone. No cell phones or BlackBerrys are permitted in the facility, even for visitors.

Maybe that'll shape her up.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

CORRECTION: 11 yr old bags 1,000 PET boar

CNN has run a follow-up article about the kid shooting the wild boar, as I blogged about here.

Turns out the boar wasn't so wild after all:

"Phil Blissitt told The Anniston Star in a story Friday that he bought the 6-week-old pig in December 2004 as a Christmas gift for his wife, Rhonda...."

There's a joke there, but it's just too easy.

So the reality is that Fred (that's the name of the pig) had been raised on a farm and released on the wilderness reserve because it couldn't be sold to slaughter. Fred roamed around his 150 acre enclosure for four days before meeting his untimely death at the hands of a the gun-totin' 11 year old.

I'm sure it's still an impressive feat and all, but somehow knowing that the thing wasn't wild, that it had only been living on its own for four days, and had a name kinda takes some of the shine off the whole incident, ya know?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Google Gears

Yesterday Google released a plug-in for Firefox called Google Gears which allows users to read their Google Reader RSS feeds offline.

"So what?" you may be thinking. "There are plenty of RSS reader programs out there, many more popular than Google Reader, that allow you to do the same thing."

That's not the point.

The reason why this is a pretty huge deal is because it's an ONLINE application that's now available when you're NOT connected to the Internet. This could have much more significant implications for Google's other apps such as Gmail, Google Calendar, (hopefully) Blogger and, perhaps most intriguing of all, Google Docs and Spreadsheets.

True, Docs and Spreadsheets aren't the over-the-top productivity apps Word and Excel are, but do they need to be? The general consensus is most people only use a fraction of the "features" in Office. Even Microsoft acknowledged their products were bloated with unneeded features when they released new slimmed-down versions in Office '07.

While they could have a few more features, Docs and Spreadsheets do what most people need and nothing more and the hurdle of having to be online to edit your files may be gone within a few months, putting Microsoft squarely in Google's sights.

Microsoft makes its billions from Office and Windows sales. Could this be a silver bullet to one of its most significant cash cows?