And it’s not even my birthday

I’ve been a long time listener to the Geek News Central podcast and to celebrate his recent 250th episode, he asked 10 listeners to call in for a very special gift box. Due to my ever-so-early 5:00 AM drive in to work, it wasn’t hard for me to leave him a quick voicemail. I don’t know if I was the first, but I was one of the ten as he announced my name the following episode.

Fast forward today and I was the happy recipient of quite a nice hand-crafted box of very thoughtful and Hawaii-oriented items:

A gift box from Geek News Central

From left to right. Back row: Lion Coffee catalog and 7 oz of Fancy Roasted Coffee, Hawaiian Host Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts, a Tiki Candle (“Ku” the god of war), a good luck cat (inscription “Ten Million” for much wealth). Front row: Aloha Bottle Jacket, blubrry sticker and stress ball, a pen, and a note card. Not pictured: A teak napkin holder.

The card reads:

Geek News Central Ohana

Congratulations on winning a gift box on my 250th show. I apologize for this taking so long but we have been crazy busy. I appreciate your support of the show, and hope that you enjoy the selection of goodies that my lovely wife picked out. Each box was a little different as we picked stuff up piece meal.

Thanks again for being such a great supporter of the show.


It was a very generous gift and I really appreaciate the effort and expense. Give his show a listen, it really is a fun podcast.

Information: Who is serving whom?

I got bit by the RSS bug about two years ago as I used to frequent the same 15-20 websites daily and being able to subscribe to them made keeping up much easier and reduced the chance of me missing something because I didn’t check often enough.

For the unfamiliar, RSS is a way to publish the essential information about a blog post, news article or similar data and make that available to anything that can parse and display that information (e.g., a browser, application, or web service). Podcasts are distributed in this fashion with your “podcatcher” occasionally checking the feed and downloaded a new episode for you.

I used to use Bloglines but am currently enjoying Google’s Reader and am subscribed to 67 different feeds. With a good portion producing new information daily and a few several times an hour, the amount of content is considerable.

A good friend of mine was lamenting to me how his “TiVo chores.” TiVo has an option to automatically record shows it thinks you will like in addition to the shows you tell it to record. For him, he has to make a point to sit down and filter through and/or watch all the shows before he gets too behind. Similarly, for me, I check Google Reader multiple times a day to ensure that I don’t get too far behind.

So having said all of that, the question I have to ask is are we being served ball all this information or are we instead allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by things that don’t really matter? I could probably read only a fraction of the items that I wade through and not be the worse for it, but my compulsive side would make me obsess about the things I didn’t read.

The second complaint another friend of mine made was the fact that by digesting website information via RSS you can often miss out on the other things you see if you visit the website directly. Things like comments, related links, and even in some cases, ads. “Browsing” in the general sense is lost. In the context of a printed newspaper, if you read only the front page, you miss all sorts of content on page 3 or in the Lifestyles section (not to mention the classifieds).

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I can’t help but think there is a considerable amount of growing up and learning we will all have to do to find a balance between the information serving us and us serving the information.

MythTV + Front Row + Mac Mini = HD happiness

I’ve been using MythTV which is the open source DVR and home theater system for Linux for years. I originally set it up because I wanted a TiVo but disliked the concept of a monthly fee to use something that I paid for. Of course, I’m a geek, so it’s reasonable for me to put together a new box, install Linux, and install and configure a fairly complex product that was, at the time, early in development.
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Now all we need are some fish

Our two dogs have done a number on our back yard. I’ve fought off-and-on for years trying to keep the lawn in reasonable shape, but just couldn’t make it work. Combine that with the fact Becky has always wanted a waterfall we decided that it was worth investigating.

We decided to dive in, so-to-speak, and last week replaced a significant portion of our small yard with a waterfall and pond. It was installed/built by Exotic Aquatics who did a wonderful job (thanks, Brian). It turned out to be both larger and more impressive than I, at least, had imagined.

You can see a few pictures of the progress and the result on the gallery album. We’ll be going fish shopping this weekend as fish represent an important component of the whole ecosystem. Of course, my friend at work thinks I should just liberate a few from the gigantic koi pond at the Karl Strauss Brewery next to work but we’ll go the more honest route.

I’m sure there will be additional stories and pictures as this whole thing develops. I’ll keep you posted.

Chumby: A clock-radio for the 21st century

An old collegue of mine from Gryphon Software (the founder and the guy who hired me, in fact) IM’d me today with news he’s at a new venture. Chumby Industries is working on developing a new device which, in essence, is going to be a new generation of clock radio. It’s a small device with WiFi that can display content based on Flash widgets. Weather, horroscope, headlines, music, and, of course, the time.

They’re just getting started but they seem to have thought about all the options and are going down a good path. They are going to provide premium fee-based content but will also support custom and/or cummunity developed widgets. Unlike a Tivo, if you don’t want the service, it will still work but you’ll forego the content you’d get from the service.

Can’t wait to get home

While attending WWDC has been fun and educational this week, I am certainly ready to get home.

Last night, I was able to spend time with my old friend Cary, who works for Apple, at the beer bash at the Apple campus. That was fun, I got a small tour of his building and his office. He has seven computers crammed in there, but somehow, it works.

Of course, with the current raised travel threat level the flight home may be fun. I’m going to check one of my bags (I normally try to do carry-on only) to make sure I can get everything home. I also decided to move my reservation to one that leaves 45 minutes later to make sure that any delays getting through security don’t cost me my flight home.

What a nice gesture

My “roomate” at work, Kristin, was straightening her desk yesterday and commented that she couldn’t stop. I joked with her that I’d ask her to work on mine, but I wouldn’t knowing that she probably would.

I come in this morning to find that my desk has been completely tidied up. Books put away, papers stacked and everything looking much nicer.

I hope you have the fortune to work with people who are as kind and generous as she.

Thanks, Kristin.

I think I found a solution to my posting problem

If you remember, I was having problems getting Deepest Sender (a Firefox extension to do blog posts on the fly) to work for me after some unknown event or upgrade caused it to no longer be able to log in.

I’ve found a alternate extension called Performancing. It works quite nicely and I’m using it for this post here. I have found at least one small problem where the editor display is a little muddled (not properly rendering spaces), but otherwise this should be a usefull extension.

Thanks, Kristin.

A few thoughts on The DaVinci Code

Becky and I went to see The DaVinci Code this afternoon with some friends of ours. I had "read" the book a few years ago (in quotes as I don’t have time to read and instead listen to books from during my commute) and thought it was decent enough work of fiction. Unfortunately, many have come to believe that the assertions of its author, Dan Brown, are true and based in fact. Continue reading

Thanks, Kristin!

My friend at work, Kristin, tipped me on to an album she thought the kids would enjoy. It’s by a group called They Might Be Giants and the album is No! The group has been around since the 80’s but No! is a kids album they made in 2002 and dang it, the thing is horribly addicting. Every song is fun, creative, and agrivatingly memorable. In the month or so we have had the album, we’ve listened to it about 20 times.

Think of it as musical versions of Shel Silverstein poems. You can listen to samples of the songs at the iTunes Music Store if you’re so inclined.

BTW, if you become addicted, I apologize.

Hippo, hippo. Mop!

Thanks, Kristin.