leap of faith

Huck 1

‘‘It wasn’t some yahoo stunt,’’ Pierre said. ‘‘I chose to do it so it would open up doors so I could witness my faith in Christianity.’’

About 100 feet into the jump, Nielsen said Pierre couldn’t keep his skis under him and went upside down. He landed headfirst and blew a hole 6 feet deep into the snow. [newspaper report]

Stolen from somehwere I can’t remember: Looks more like 244

[via BrennanG]


arctic monkeys + umlauts

Everyone, literally everyone is talking about the Arctic Monkeys.

Here’s my review: I think the lyrics are inventive and clever and I love the way he says “f√ľking”, but I wish it was musically a little more adventurous.

Now playing: Arctic MonkeysWhen The Sun Goes Down

Technical note: Do you know how to add accented characters in Windows on a standard English installation and US Keyboard?

The easy way is to go to all programs, accessories, system tools, character map, select the character, hit the select button and copy, then paste it where you need it.

The hard way and the way I learned was to hold down the alt key and using the number pad (has to be the number pad, not the ones on top) type in the ASCII value. Alt-0252 for the u with an umlaut.



mythbustersMythbusters is a good show. For those who don’t know, it is on the Discovery channel where these two guys, Jamie and Adam, special-effects experts, recreate urban legends and various myths testing whether they are “busted”, “plausible” or “confirmed”. It is like a live-action Snopes or Straight Dope. I’ve seen them all and it fulfills my geeky TV quota nicely. In my favorite episode they prove that it is completely plausible that the escape from Alcatraz via rubber boats made from prison issue raincoats could have happened for example.

The thing is, the show really makes me want to move to San Francisco. I’ve been there a number of times and always liked it, after repeated viewings it seems like a really appealing place to be — the weather, the space/elbow room (compared to NYC), the quirky residents and shopowners they meet along the way.

But don’t worry I do not expect to be moving anytime soon.


vista will be good

Mike Gunderloy who writes the useful Daily Grind tacked on this little blurb on Windows Vista in # 803

Manuel Clement and Robert Scoble team up to bring us a list of reasons to upgrade from Windows XP, complete with Channel 9 video links. Some of these have got to be jokes … I personally won’t be upgrading, … (because I optimize for getting my work done, not for eye candy). … Microsoft is on the verge of releasing an OS that is pretty much irrelevant to me. If you’re still playing the cutting-edge game, I hope you enjoy it.

I’m glad I don’t have to deal with Mike in person, because this is the kind of stuff that just conflicts 100% with my sentimentalities regarding computing.

I worked at Software Etc for approximately five weeks in college, early 1996 I think. People would come in and want to buy software for their Windows 3.1 PCs (with floppy disks only) and I’d go “We don’t sell any anymore, sorry.” And they would freak out and proceed to try and tell me why 3.1 was all they’d ever need from then to the end of times because “it got their work done” and CD-ROMs were for gamers. But you know what, your work changes. In high school, I dealt with debating other computer kids who claimed that GUIs were a fad, not-going anywhere and they would *never* use one.

Everyone, Vista will be good. Microsoft may makes some minor errors in judgment, but cmon they are not going to mess up Vista. You’re going to want it. There are tons of little features alone that I’ve noticed in using the December CTP that I already want on my main workstations. Don’t get distracted by the UI candy. Every single version of Windows since the dawn of Windows has had this exact same pre-launch feedback.

I don’t want to sound like President Bush here, but Mike: You are on the wrong side of history.


emulate film exposure

Alien Skin Software has released a new plugin set called Exposure, which can reproduce the look and feel of specific types of film stock. “Simulate the warmth and softness of real world film, both color and black and white. Reproduce realistic film grain, and simplify your digital photography workflow.”

[via Unofficial Photoshop Blog]

I had just yesterday been thinking about the need for this tool.

As I was browsing this photographer’s Flickr site, I noticed that I could tell which photos were digital and which were film. There doesn’t seem to be EXIF information, so I can’t validate whether I was right or not, but I am developing an eye that can tell the difference.

You can’t necessarily jump right out and say one is better or worse in all cases, but there is no question that film produces a feel that the digital images I’ve seen don’t have. I’ve had these discussions before regarding digital vs analog for film, photos and music, and I hold that in the end, digital wins, but that it needs to learn from analog along the way. I see the problem as surmountable. Vinyl records have a distinct sound, I don’t doubt that in many cases versus a CD it sounds better, but I will claim that given enough digital resolution, smart software and processor components, digital music can eclipse vinyl.

I’ve just started playing with this Exposure product, so I don’t know if it really delivers or not, but I am very interested to see where these things are going.


books are not references anymore

I recently had to dust off the programming skills for a small project at work. The type of thing I was doing was really well suited to the new GridView and other productivity stuff in ASP.NET 2.0, so that’s where I turned.

After a too long interval where I browsed the various quickstart sites and not really getting anywhere on my project, I went to brick and mortar Barnes & Nobles and bought the 1253 page behemoth Professional edition from Wrox.

The interesting thing here is my project falls in the “simple” category of web development yet this book wasn’t enough to get the job done. The section on working with ADO and databases was so rudimentary that it didn’t even cover the basic stuff I was trying to do, specifically reading from and updating a table that had one or more relationships to lookup tables.

I’m not faulting the writers or editors here, my point is that it is remarkable that a technology book featuring 1253 pages and professional in the title wasn’t enough to get a simple job done. Naturally I fell back on Google and all the really good community sites and found the additional information I needed. (The key one for me: GridView Examples for ASP.NET 2.0: Editing the Underlying Data in a GridView)

There seems to be something to the idea that for something as big as ASP.NET, a paper book is just not going to cut it anymore. Yet, in order to know what to search for, you need a starting point and that’s what a book does for you. Gets you just enough information to ask the right questions/search the right searches. Are books as references dead? Won’t you always be able to get more indepth current information online in the future?


medicare d

Today’s blogger conspiracy theory:

The administration purposefully made Medicare D a terrible program to “prove” that government run healthcare is a bad idea in general.


ski trip highlights

best of trip: ben

That’s Ben, that’s a steep field of pure virgin snow behind him. We skied this same bowl all day long. There was a medium hike up to it, but a nasty, long traverse on the way out that kept the un-hearty and snowboarders out (not that I have a problem with snowboarders, I’m one myself 50% of the time). This was the North Country area of Crystal Mountain in Washington State.

This place has just been receiving dump-truck loads of snow. 117” of accumulation at the summit. You know you are in for a good day when there is a “deep snow warning.” The biggest danger in these conditions is falling into a tree-well and not making it out, so you have to keep your ski buddies in sight.

I’ll skip the long oratory in favor of a link to the Flickr photo set here.


hybrid double tip

I am going to start tipping hybrid cab drivers double.

I saw my first yellow Ford Escape hybrid yesterday (actually I saw two) and decided that there ought to be some way to encourage their adoption. Since you can’t really choose your cabs very specifically, I came up with the tip idea. Since most of my rides are in the $15 and under category, this will only cost me an extra buck here and there. I feel like if drivers hear about this, they are going to be asking their cab management companies for them and definitely if they own their own cab, they’ll be encouraged to upgrade maybe a little sooner than they otherwise would.

As only one person doing this, I’m unlikely to really affect change, but paraphrasing Arlo Guthrie

And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said
fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and
walking out.
 tipping their hybrid drivers an extra buck.
And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

So who’s in?


sprint 6700 exchange integration

My dad just bought the (Audiovox?) 6700 from Sprint. It is a Windows Mobile 5 device with all the fixin’s. There is a large, comfortable slide out keyboard as well as a stylus hidden in the antenna part. It can use Sprint’s high speed cell network and Wi-Fi. On and on, a high powered device.

Since I host his email domain, I wanted to get it up and running with Exchange integration. This turned out to be quite a challenge.

<Tech section>

My phone, the Audiovox SMT5600 could be set to skip strict checking of certificates on my self-created Exchange cert using a little tool from Microsoft. I tried the same method on the 6700 and it doesn’t work. I followed some instructions I found to try and edit the registry to the same effect, but I still came up short.

I then attempted to get a free third party certificate from StartCom, which I was able to do and install, but the phone didn’t accept the root certificate authority. If I was doing this again, I would have then installed it on the phone at this stage. But I didn’t know that at the time and managed to spend $30 and another six hours buying a certificate from the cheapest SSL provider I could find. This one had a root certificate authority ready to go in Windows XP, but not apparently on Windows Mobile. After some serious yak shaving, I managed to export the root authority to a file and onto the device where after a very long time of struggling it finally worked.

The shortcut answer to the solution (man I wish someone had said this to me) is you should use the pocket PC browser to point to your exchange server (https://yourdomain.com/exchange) and keep trying until you get no popup message with the yellow triangle warnings that something is wrong. Unfortunately the ActiveSync diagnostics are just totally incomplete and the browser is the best troubleshooting method.

</tech section>

Okay, so on to the next step. In order to really take advantage of Exchange Integration, you want to have your calendar, contacts, tasks as well as email all up on the server. He had been running locally and using POP3 to download email from Exchange. But in order to run Outlook in Exchange integrated mode, I either needed to turn on RPC over HTTP, which seems like a whole lot of work or set up some kind of VPN.

Fortunately I had just seen a plug for hamachi on Download Squad. It is a new VPN app that enables really quick and easy VPN setups. It even does NAT to NAT transversals, which covers most configurations now a days. I had set up quite a few VPNs in my day and this was by FAR the easiest ever.