Friday, December 7, 2007

Becoming Windows-free: first impressions of Ubuntu.

I posted on here a bit ago about the future of the OS & the web. Time to take my own medicine...

When my old PC met it's maker last week in a grinding hard-drive failure, I figured it was an opportunity to free myself from the $100 Microsoft surcharge I pay every time I get a new computer. Time to see what all the Ubuntu buzz is about...

I looked at building my own PC - never done that, but heard it's pretty easy. Then I realized Dell was selling Ubuntu, which I could order without a monitor for $350. I wanted to hook this up to my HDTV... so took a risk that it would work. I have to say, getting the nvidia drivers to play nice with the DVI out was a hassle (besides the fact that the drivers weren't properly installed when the PC arrived). I've basically resolved it by stretching some toolbars(panels) on the sides of my screen to offset the overscan. Seems to do the trick well enough.

So what are my impressions from this experience? I've been a Windows user all my life (except for a few comp. sci. classes in college). I am tickled by the fact that I'm using free, open-source everything. That makes me part of a community which supports the philosophy that computing should be accessible to everyone.

As for the Ubuntu operating system. There's some pros & cons:

Pros
  • It's super fast! I can't emphasize this enough... Windows is a resource hog, especially Vista from what I've heard. I can run more applications at once now without feeling the drag.
  • Available software o' plenty. I was immediately impressed with the amount of quality software available for Ubuntu (for free!). I researched it a bit before taking the dive... but I think the only software I'll have to do without is TurboTax.
Cons
  • More command lines than many would like. I'd say Windows is pretty good at letting a user avoid this completely. A user could use Ubuntu out of the box & never need a command line... but in all likelihood, they'll need to go there once they start customizing or installing new software.
  • Using the forums. This could be a pro AND a con... but the point is that you're going to have to rely on google to find solutions to your questions (this is also true with Windows, just not to the same degree). It's not entirely bad - in fact, I haven't had a single issue yet I couldn't resolve this way.
Would I recommend Ubuntu? Yes & no. I wouldn't recommend it to a non-technical person who's comfort-zone is already Windows. I would recommend it to anyone who's got a little extra time & curiousity to learn something new. I'd also say it's great for anyone learning a computer for the first time... (from square 1, the learning curve is not much steeper).

Later versions of Ubuntu will only get better as more people try it out & it gets more attention. Like I've said before - I think that will happen as the web becomes a central computing platform & people will realize the $100 Microsoft tax isn't necessary.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I am engaged.

Yep, that's right.

We aren't going to even talk about wedding-anything until after the holidays, but Brandie & I have made it official.

We were driving home from shopping yesterday and I stopped us by the riverwalk where one of those horse carriages was waiting. We got on board and I pulled a blanket off the box of a dozen roses with the ring inside and some chilled champagne...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Confessions of MisterX: From Suckramento to Rowdytown, a 5-year journey ends.

Back in September 2002, I decided to start a hobby project. I'd been into web development since the early days and I felt there was a scarcity of good 'community owned' local content out there for Sacramento. Sure, there were sites like the SacBee, CitySearch, and AOL - but nothing that had a really honest local flavor. I decided I would take a stab at getting a local community site built. I wanted it to be non-commercial and honest, as a place for locals to say what they think without having it filtered by advertiser or conservative interests. After a bit of searching for available domain names, I registered 'suckramento.com' on Sept 1, 2002. Sure, it was an edgy and somewhat distasteful name... but that was okay since I wanted the site to be different.

The name 'Suckramento' fit for a few reasons. I wanted the site to encourage honest and critical discussion of local issues. I wanted the name to stand out and be memorable. Since this was to be my first site without any plans layed out... I wanted it to be experimental and offbeat. The other reason the name fit is... well, a lot of people like to poke fun at Sacramento. Don't get me wrong - I'm a Sac native & love this town. However, we've got some problems. In 2002, I had an hour long commute to my corporate job from my suburban house in north sac. There wasn't much social activity for late 20's single guy in that neighborhood... so outside of studying for my MBA, working on this website gave me something to work on.

Building and running a website was an invaluable learning experience for me. Outside of learning some tricks like developing a user-registration system and other technical magic, dealing with marketing, administering, and policy were great challenges to face. It is a bittersweet experience. With every person who's grateful or eager to help you, there's someone complaining or hassling you.

The website was developed organically, piece by piece. First there was a 'suck list', where people just listed things that sucked about Sacramento and voted on them. That got the site some free publicity when Armstrong & Getty aired the site on their show (because their nemesis Mayor Heather Fargo was listed there). Eventually, the other features of the site came to make it more than a place for discussions - hangouts, events, and later bands & photos.

Back then when I was involved with the site... a few friends from work & people I met on the site thought it could work if there was collaboration on 'features'. Features were the headline stories on the front page of the site. While 'MisterX' (my alias running the site) was having fun writing them... I knew that wouldn't last forever & I wanted the site to run on user-generated content. I experimented with this by creating a Yahoo Group for people who wanted to collaborate on features and other parts of the site. One person in particular who joined (user cartmansays) proved to be a violent and disruptive individual. The telltale incident was the first (and last) party of his we dropped by... which ended in a drunken outburst of violence and property damage. I guess that's the drawback of a site called 'suckramento'... it attracts some extreme types of personalities. That dude didn't mesh with the 'webteam' vibe & after some disagreements about his submitted feature (which was his personal profanity-filled narrative about lightrail) he quit the group via email CC'ing 20 people I don't know (but they were probably users he'd met on the site). I ended up having to develop a pretty effective IP+cookie 'banning' technique as a result of all that... when that guy and his friends started harrassing me personally (posting my name, workplace, etc) on the site. I simply tell this story because it demonstrates an important lesson when running a site: keep your personal info private, and use a serious screening process before letting anonymous users into the inner circle.

The best part of running the site is having a platform for freedom and creativity. That's the beauty of being an alias like 'MisterX'. You can have fun with it. This meant features on local topics... for things that the Sac Bee was unlikely to cover like (Sac's famous serial killers).

Then there was "Suck-Squad", where we arranged harmless pranks in a flash mob style. Well, we only did it once but it got a blurb in the Bee (putting silly notes in clothes in the Downtown Plaza clothing stores).


Then there was She-Bay, another experiment done once (once was enough). It was humorous though. We found a local girl who we auctioned off for a date. Really, we just thought it'd be funny to do something called 'sheBay'. The girl wasn't that pleasant or easy to work with (understandable), so we didn't repeat that experiment.

Ah, then the Sac-Girls... this was one of the highlights of the site. The users seemed to like it, and it was fun to practice photography on aspiring models wearing a Suckramento.com spaghetthi strap top.

Like I mentioned... the drawback of running a 'irreverent' site like Suckramento.com is that you want to keep your name distanced from it. After all, it's for the community - you are just providing it so you don't need your name plastered on it right? When the site won a 2004 Dottie Award for best humorous local website, they called the name "Mister X" to come accept & present a speech. Part of me wonders if they granted the award to see who MisterX was, hehe. Being nominated got you free tickets, so my friend and I went for curiousity & the free food but left the award ceremony early when we realized our category was last. I was able to pick up the trophy later.

Unfortunately in the early days I hadn't learned the privacy lesson yet. Early on, R.E. Graswich posted my name in the Bee when he blurbed about the site. People at work ended up emailing around about it... and I partially suspect that it put me in a negative light to some of the more conservative old fogies managing there at Intel. Before that, Pera Davalos interviewed me for her Consumnes College newpaper to do a story on the site... which was a safer medium. Still, personal privacy was always my burden with Suckramento. Eventually, that is what caused me to change the name to Rowdytown (partially).

After I had changed jobs, moved downtown, and started spending less time on the site... someone at work went to training and met someone from my old job who knew me. He found out about the Suckramento, and after I asked him to please keep it on the down-low, I realized he was telling people. I said to myself 'That's it... time to change the name'. For a while, I'd been wondering what would happen if I made the site generic & let it be copied for other cities. Would it grow easily? I decided to change the name to Rowdytown.com so the less palatable 'suckramento' wouldn't keep haunting me at my new job (where I basically work FOR Sacramento) and also so I could test the waters on expansion. Well, I learned pretty quickly that sites don't get a kickstart without a lot of money or effort or both. I eventually shut-down the multi-town rowdytown experiment so in the end it was just Sacramento. I still think there is opportunity for sites like that... but it takes a devoted effort, which I was past by that point in my life. When you get into that franchise territory, you're just another joe schmoe so you lose the advantage of your local support. The big fish eat the little fish in that market.

So here we are. I look back fondly at the good times running Suckramento.com. I've sold the site to an interested party (although I look forward to helping & staying involved how I can). They are some bright guys creating a site of their own, and they remind me of myself a few years ago. Maybe suckramento will see some exciting new changes... but regardless, I'm letting my baby go to proud new parents. Since I didn't have time to devote it was only right to pass on the reigns. Will there be new projects for 'MisterX'? Possibly. In fact I have one in mind (should I find the time) but this one will be totally different: a technical service for developers (that's all I'll say for now). Sorry, no sac-girls.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What's on my PC? (My favorite productivity tools & freeware)

When it comes to computers - some of the best things in life are free. These are some of the most useful software I keep installed on my PC and use frequently. You may have heard of them - if not, give them a try.

My favorite apps:
  • Open Office - Gotta love these guys for trying to make the world a better place... less dependent upon $99 software. However, their timing is worse than a 1989 glamrock band since Google Docs is looking to be the next best thing (or best thing even) to replace expensive MS Office.
  • Winamp + Streamripper - Winamp has always done everything I needed to play music (which isn't much, except dock somewhere tidy & stay outta my way). The visualizations are kinda neat since I use my PC through my TV & sometimes just want background noise. Personally, I don't even bother with CD's or even MP3s anymore. I am on the streaming internet radio kick. That's where Streamripper comes in. It lets you burn MP3's straight from streaming audio. When I took a week long roadtrip... this came in quite handy. I just burned a few CDs of ripped MP3s (have MP3 car stereo)...and I didn't have to listen to the same song once for 20 hours of driving. Nice!
  • Firefox + Google Toolbar - I am not anti-Microsoft... I am pro-best-product. I switched to Firefox because it just works better. I think MS released IE7 a bit prematurely before they worked out the kinks, so they could catch-up to the 'tabbed-browser' bandwagon. Google Toolbar is a necessity. Google is becoming so much more than a search engine with their innovative applications... they are becoming the web's OS. Their toolbar is customizable & plays very nicely with Firefox.
  • Editpad Lite - Just as Firefox did tabs for browsers... Editpad did tabs for 'Notepad'. I find this simple app one of the most handy & convenient for switching between multiple files at once & search/replace. The search/replace handles linebreaks... sounds simple enough, but that feature is actually vital & hard to come by. Very lightweight & simple, yet feature rich.
  • IrfanView - Despite the weird name... this is another essential tool. This is a simple, lightweight image viewer. You can do all the most common image tasks... like browsing, converting, resizing, cropping, etc., etc. A must have - download & associate all your image filetypes with this.
  • Picasa Desktop - Photo management. This is the neat desktop counterpart to Google's Picasa web albums. Some prefer Flickr... but this client is something Flickr doesn't have. It makes it easy to download friends albums & quickly rotate, organize & label your albums.
  • GIMP - This ain't Photoshop... but it's darn near close & does most everything just as well. Best yet - it's totally free... even if it takes a bit to re-learn the menus & toolsets since they are a bit different than Photoshop.
  • BitComet & eMule - Products like these were born from the ghost of Napster - allowing millions to "fileshare" (aka pirate software & music). I don't use them much... but they can come in handy when looking for that hard to find file.
  • KaraFun - I discovered this after seeing $300+ karaoke machines for sale. This free software turns your computer into a karaoke machine... for free! It's a great fun app. If one were so inclined... they could find those .KAR or CDG+MP3 files on BitComet & eMule discussed above.
  • WallpaperFlickr - I find static desktop backgrounds boring... such poor PC feng shui. This is a neat utility to rotate your wallpaper straight from Flickr (the largest photo sharing site online). Just try it... right now my keyword for it is set to 'halloween'. Last week it was 'superheroes'.
For programmers, hackers, & technophiles:
  • 2BrightSparks SyncBack - Click a button & this app syncs files between folders or an FTP site. You can completely configure it... with schedules, filters, etc. I found it very useful for deploying changes to a website. (The newer versions are trial based, but the older versions are still great & freeware)
  • AutoHotKey - This nifty tool saved me from getting carpal tunnel syndrome when I had to manually click & delete 90 items from a website once. Yes - it's a mouse+keyboard 'macro' recorder & player. Not used often... but it's a lifesaver when it's needed.
  • Visual Studio .NET Express (w/ SQL Server Express) - Fortunately for developer/programers... Microsoft understands that it's .NET platform will only be as prolific as the number of developers who master it. That's why they provide this robust IDE for free (lightweight version... they still have the upsell) - to compete with competitors like Eclipse for Java. Let the poor college kids geek out!
..and on my Treo/Palm OS (since I'm sharing):
(even though these will probably be antiquated with the next generation of mobile devices. The Treo has had a great run though!)
  • DiddleBug (or BugMe+) - The simple note taker... let's your phone be your scratchpad. I use it more than anything for those reminders that I'm too lazy to formalize in my To Do list. (BugMe isn't free... but I had to get it because DiddleBug wouldn't work on my new Treo)
  • Keyring - Now I can just remember one master password & put all my private info inside this app under that password. Create profiles like 'bank accounts', 'websites', 'locks' and store your PINs, combinations, & passwords all in one place.
  • Kinoma - Ok, this one isn't free... but I couldn't resist now that I have EV-DO on my phone. It allows you to view streaming video & audio
  • Google Maps - Reason #327 why I love Google. This is the most useful app on my phone. For travelling someplace new, or just finding the nearest Walgreens - screw expensive GPS systems, this is all you need.
  • Cell Plan -Counts your minutes. Those sneaky wireless companies probably don't like this app. Come to think... why don't they provide this on their phones? Oh yeah... because then you wouldn't accidentally go over your minute limit to get that $200 bill. (I think this app is free, except you can't track SMS or some other feature until you pay for it. Nevertheless, it's handy even without extra features).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This guy is a hero.


This guy is a true fan of superheros. The image was on Flickr tagged 'superhero'... and it's definitely the kind of photoshopping I would have done when I was a kid (or maybe still). I especially like the Spiderman constume & Wolverine shaped fro.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

7 Windows Wallpaper Tricks That Don’t Disappoint

Cool... pointless, but cool.

7 Windows Wallpaper Tricks That Don’t Disappoint

My personal choice is #4, the Flickr Wallpaper Rotater. I configure it with tags "crazy, sexy, cool" and use Flickrs 'interestingness' rating to pick the best. Now I never know what I'll see next on my desktop.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Shooping: An observed phenomenon regarding shopping and calls of nature.

I have coined a new term, 'shooping', to describe an odd phenomenon involving human digestion and psychology. I've observed the phenomenon in myself for years, but only recently have discussed it with other people to realize it is a common experience.

Why does nature call when it does? You would think it's simple. Fluids + time will fill the bladder and create the need to urinate. Solids would do the same for 'number two'. However, I've noticed that certain situations can trigger a sudden need to poop. One of these triggers is shopping - hence the term 'shooping'.

Personally, I've noticed the strongest 'shooping' triggers when I've been in stores which have a huge variety of products. Often, I do not know exactly what I am looking for and am just 'browsing' some items I'm interested in when I get a shoop-attack. Likely places are Walgreens, Target, the library, or anyplace where I am overwhelmed by decisions on where to look. This could be different for everyone; e.g. an acquaintance of mine confirmed shoop-attacks in Ross, Old Navy, a cat store, and a halloween store (interestingly, this person loves both cats & halloween). Now you may be thinking 'hey, I've experienced shooping myself - what can I do to prevent it?'. It's very simple, a preemptive bowel movement before heading out to the store seems to stave off shoop-attacks in my experience.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Firefox 2.0 is superior to Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7)

I have given IE 7 every last chance, but after freezing up on me & breaking one too many sites... I've given up.

Firefox seems to load faster, be more customizable, handle tabs better, and even lets me place every button & box exactly where I want it.

Thanks to Google Bookmarks & the toolbar letting me keep my favorites in one place - switching browsers was never easier.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Neighbors of Southside Park

My neighborhood is Southside Park. In the early years of Sacramento, this neighborhood filled in as industry drove growth along the riverfront and north of the R st railroad. A natural inlet of water followed the lower elevation along 7th St, where Southside Pond exists today. Many immigrants settled in the area as industry flourished in the downtown area (and because minorities could buy land in Southside). In the 60s and 70s, prostitution was prevalent until neighbors cooperated to drive it away. Today, Southside Park is a diverse and historic neighborhood with a beautiful park, nestled along a 5-block strip between the freeways and State Government concrete jungle.

I've lived in this neighborhood a few years now. Living in downtown is a must for anyone with the means who is active, single, and craving culture. I used to live in 'the burbs' when single... and what a plague on my social life that was. However, for the 'married with children' crowd... I can see how life downtown is too seedy and unsafe. Homeless people and hooligans just come with the territory on any street. Tighter living quarters and parking difficulties are also drawbacks.

Unique, it is. Perfect, it is not. A handful of low-rent apartments bring undesireable elements to any neighborhood, as they do here (vandalism, loitering, crime). I have consistently been amazed at how suburban sprawl continues unabatedly, while downtown residents/developers seem to have so much trouble getting any construction approved. There are empty lots & condemned homes that sit waiting for city appointed committees to review, nit-pick, and approve any attempt at redevelopment. Also, I wish there were more dining options than Vallejo's, Waffle Square, and Fox & Goose (albeit the best breakfast in Sac). You can thank the State Goverment's eminent domain on downtown for that, as they have made downtown a bustling city mon-fri 8-5... yet left few residences to keep the town alive outside of the work week.

Still, the future is bright for Southside Park. Not just because it is bleak for the overgrown suburbs strained by gas prices, crowded freeways, and adjustable mortgages. Redevelopment and revitalization of the urban centers is inevitable. I'm very excited about the projects being planned, such as: the Riverfront Master Plan, the R Street Corridor redevelopment, and revitalizing Broadway with a bridge to West Sac. Unfortunately, NIMBYs are always slowing progress in one way or another (link & link). If you're interested in more about development downtown, check out http://livinginurbansac.blogspot.com/

If you're one of my neighbors here in Southside Park, think about joining the Southside Park Neighborhood Association & get involved with the issues... or check out the SPNA calendar to see what they are involved with.

Funny Sayings & Phrases

Have you ever known one of those people that always has a funny saying or phrase for situations? A childhood friend's dad actuallly would use 'It's colder than a witches tit in a brass bra'.

Where do people learn this stuff? I think it's hilarious. Maybe if you read enough funny sayings and learn old proverbs and euphemisms, then you can whip 'em out next time colorful language is required.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tasty Data Goodies - Swivel

Fun with charts!

I've always been a visual learner. I know graphs & charts are one of the easiest ways to misconstrue facts.... just take any page from USA Today (aka 'McNews'). Still, a picture is worth a thousand words as they say - and this site provides a lot of easily digestible useless or partially useful knowledge!

Tasty Data Goodies - Swivel

Monday, October 8, 2007

Instaboat - my foldable dinghy

So as mentioned in the 'Fishing with Steve' post... I've been looking at different options for portable boats. As an urbanite, I don't have space to park a boat/trailer. I live very close to the river & have wanted something portable to take on fishing/camping trips or just when I get the itch.

Inflatables looked like the best option for me - but still somewhat of a pain to inflate/deflate every time you take them out. A guy at work told me about 'folding boats' - and after some googling they seemed like a good choice. They seemed to perform well, assemble/fold easy, and weigh about the same as inflatables (~70lbs).

The two companies I found were Porta-bote & Instaboat. Both products were hard to find a dealer for. Porta-bote (based in Mountain View, CA) had kind of a cheesy website without easily available info on how to buy it. Instaboat's (based in french Canada) website led me to Camping World in Rocklin, CA... so off I went to pick it up. It was kind of expensive ($999), but worth it for what I needed & Instaboat also accepts a small outboard engine for when I get one.

I strapped the folded boat on top of my car-rack with two nylon kayak straps from REI, and it seemed to ride pretty snug on the freeway drive home. I stopped by the river to try it out. The first time putting it together was a little slow as I figured it out... but overall pretty easy. It would have been easier with two people to help load/unload it onto the car rack. The main quirk putting it together was that the metal latches used to lock down the pieces didn't fit perfectly without some finagling... and one of them bent a bit trying to get the latch in. Overall, I'm not too worried about the thing holding together in the water. I took it in the water & it worked just fine (no leaks!) - like any fishing boat I imagine. However, it is kind of lightweight, so seemed to shift to & fro a bit.

Next installment of 'Fishing with Steve' may have a motor involved!

Eric Thomas Wilkerson, of Washington

So I went to SF on Saturday for Fleet Week.

A friend Christine has a place with rooftop access right in North Beach... what a show! The Blue Angels blasting right over your head in formation... with BBQ & a spectacular view to boot.
There were quite a lot of other rooftop suares happening simulataneously, which made it quite fun.

Now for the title of my post...

Needless to say, North Beach + Fleet Week = Insane Parking.
I was fortunate enough to land a corner spot around the block, so Brandie & I were walking there to grab some forgotten sunglasses when I saw some young guys trying to squeeze into the tight parking spot in front of me. I paused & kept a close watch... until a minute later they gave up. As they pulled away, a black KIA Sportage swiftly parallel-parks in and I hear a distinct crackle of plastic as their spare tire munches into the front grill of my new car! I announce 'DUDE, you just hit my car!'... and as the guy gets out I immediately ask for his drivers license & write down his information. I look over the grill & even though there is no apparent damage - I heard the crack!

So, Eric Thomas Wilkerson, of Washington State...
I suggest you be more careful driving & parking in the future. Sure, you may have that spare tire to protect your car from damage... but you never know when the owner of the car is standing right there.
Consider this a little dose of internet karma - Mr. Careless Driver, and may this post enter the annals of Google's Search Index upon your name as penance for your recklessness.

And oh yes, if my grill falls off anytime soon - you'll be hearing from me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Big Bang is Big Baloney

So we all know that 'the universe' was created from a singularity, as an instantaneous expansion of all matter. Or do we?

It's human nature we explain the world in the simplest way we can. In earlier times, people thought the world was flat.... seemed to make sense at the time. Now, in the age of Hubble deep field telescopes, quantum physics, and general relativity... our observations are more advanced, even if our human reasoning isn't.

So, why is the Big Bang theory widely accepted? Here are the main observations:


  1. The universe appears to be expanding.
  2. 'Cosmic microwave background radiation' was predicted by the Big Bang, and is in fact observed.
  3. An abundance of light elements in the universe (called nucleosynthesis) is predicted by the Big Bang & observed.

Now for a few challenges posing scientists regarding the Big Bang theory:

  • The expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating.
  • The universe is expanding uniformally around us, so either: the universe is expanding uniformally from everywhere(then where's the center?), or we are at the center of the universe (sounds like pre-Copernicus thinking to me)

If there's one conceptual/philisophical problem I have with the Big Bang... it's that it implies a finite universe & a creation, which forces one to ask more questions. I'm sure the Pope would have an answer for you... in fact the Big Bang theory was proposed by a preacher. However, I see no reason to mix religion & science. Considering Occam's' Razor (the most important rule of thumb for science in my opinion), a finite universe over-complicates everything by forcing one to ask questions like: "where did the matter come from? why was it the amount of matter it is? why was it located where it was?". An infinite universe is pure & simple (albeit mind boggling, but just look at the night sky for a minute & you'll understand infinite).

From what I can tell... Einstein did everything possible to explain away the Big Bang (cosmological constants & what-not). I feel ok not agreeing with the scientific majority, if I'm in that sort of company. Everyone knows Einstein was genius... but it wasn't just a genius of logic & math, it was a creative 'think outside the box' genius. Hell, he invented "Space-Time" & realized that matter bends space-time to cause gravity. It took me a while to even comprehend that!

When you get to this area of theoretical physics/science... you have to bring in philosophy to some degree. Why do we have the laws of physics that we do (gravity, weak/strong nuclear, electromagnetic)? Why does the speed of light = 299 792 458 m/s instead of 57? As for the observation that the universe is expanding.... Quantum mechanics shows that laws of the universe break down at the subatomic level, so who's to say the laws of the universe don't also break down at the multi-galaxy level? (the earth appeared flat, but duh -it wasn't from the macro-view).

String theory (and attempts at a 'grand unified theory') propose ideas about how & why the rules of our universe exist. In my opinion, Occam's Razor would prescribe that 'infinite' is the answer at all levels. In fact, there is an alternative to the Big Bang theory which accepts the infinite AND explains all the observations... I've seen it referred to as the Brane Collision theory. It basically implies that in an infinite mesh of alternate universe's membranes (each with their own properties)... a collision between membranes could cause a 'reset' of matter much like the Big Bang, but without the finite expansion from a singularity.


My Stock Portfolio Google Gadget

This is something I built for my own use... as I like to keep track of my investments by earnings.

It's amusing how many people grabbed it for their own page & many apparently weren't happy with it. To those gripers, I'd suggest they pick up some javascript skills & fix it themself (it's very easy).

Notably, (despite the gripes) my gadget has nearly 60,000 users... which is more than many of the Yahoo & Google created gadgets.

http://www.google.com/ig/directory?source=gghp&num=24&url=http://sav74sac.googlepages.com/portfolio.xml


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fishing with Steve

So I may be on hiatus from my cooking hobby... I bought me a fishin' pole & decided to give it an honest try. I like the outdoors, low impact activities, and water.. what more could I ask for? If I get hooked, maybe I'll get myself an inflateable outboard dinghy & have some fun with that...

I fished as a kid with my uncle - but apparently forgot entirely how. Last week on my first day with my new rod, I went out to Paradise Beach & managed to tangle about 20 feet of lure without casting anything. So I figured I need to learn a few things... such as:

How to fish:
Angling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angling
How To Fish http://www.takemefishing.org/howtofish
Fishing Knots http://www.netknots.com/html/fishing_knots.html

When to fish:
Fishing/Hunting - sacbee.com http://www.sacbee.com/365/index.html
Fish Sniffer Online .fishsniffer.com/places/sacvalley.html

Where to fish:
California DFG, California Fishing Passport http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fishingpassport/guide.asp
Sacramento River Access Sites http://www.sacramentoriver.org/access_site.php
American River Parkway http://www.sacparks.net/our-parks/american-river-parkway/

... and thanks to Google Maps (satellite view), I may have found a few good spots to try out


View Larger Map


Job Searching

I'm not looking for a job right now... in fact, I'm pretty content where things are right now. These are the sites I would use if I were looking: (I need to put them someplace since I'm cleaning out old bookmarks). Some of them, like Monster & Dice, are old tried & true job marketplaces. Other newer sites like indeed & simplyhired are pretty sweet mashups collecting dozens of job databases into one search...

America's Job Bank http://www.jobbankinfo.org/
CalPers (Heck, I'm PERS already ... and it's right down the street. ) http://www.calpers.ca.gov/
CareerBuilder.com Jobs careerbuilder.com/
craigslist: sacramento ,sacramento.craigslist.org/
Dice.com http://www.dice.com/
Indeed http://www.indeed.com/
Jobster http://www.jobster.com/
My Monster: Monster my.monster.com/
SacramentoCareers.com http://www.sacramentocareers.com/
SimplyHired http://www.simplyhired.com/

Monday, October 1, 2007

How does my car work?

I guess I'm kinda weak because I don't really have a clue how my car works. If I have to go to a mechanic... I'd just have to put on a poker face & pretend I know my stuff... hoping I don't get ripped off because the 'pistulator has come decombobbed from the torque hose' or something.

That's why I bookmarked this one a while back - still need to read it:
How does my car work?

Popular tags on del.icio.us

I am a huge Googlephile. I get excited about their new tools, gadgets, and features - partly because I own GOOG, but also... I own GOOG because I love what they produce.

That being said - I wish Google Bookmarks would do something like del.icio.us does. It's a brilliant that they pioneered social bookmarking. Bookmarks are the best measure of sites that people value... and tagging makes it all link together.

So Google, you're halfway there with the nifty Google Toolbar bookmarks that I can take with me to any PC.... but you haven't come through yet with the social/sharing aspect. So, I still go to del.icio.us when I want to browse what other people are bookmarking on the web.
Popular tags on del.icio.us

Cooking with Steve

Earlier in the year, I took it upon myself to learn how to cook. I set my DVR for plenty of Food Network shows, like Good Eats, Iron Chef, and Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Rachel Ray just annoys me. I sifted the web for tutorials like: Cooking 101: 20 Lessons to kick start your cooking skill and http://busycooks.about.com/library/glossary/blglossary.htm (so I could understand what they were talking about on Iron Chef). I tried learning some simple things.

Most of those recipes I found on http://allrecipes.com/Search/Ingredients.aspx (which allows you to search by ingredient). This is a great way to look for recipes when you are cooking for yourself... as you can just sift through the cupboard/fridge & search for recipes with what you have on hand. Oh yeah, and a measure converter might come in handy for amateurs like me that don't feel ready to stray from a recipe.

Maybe one day I'll sign myself up for one of these fun cooking classes at the Sac Food Co-op.

Here is a collection of delectible recipes I clipped & fancy to try sometime:

Burmese Chicken Curry (Gaeng Gai Bama) - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Burmese-Chicken-Curry-Gaeng-... Tender chicken in a creamy, spicy tomato and coconut milk sauce! Serve over jasmine rice.

Chinese Five Spice Chicken - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Chinese-Five-Spice-Chicken/D...

Creamy Chow Mein Chicken - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Creamy-Chow-Mein-Chicken/Det...

Vanilla Crepes - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Vanilla-Crepes/Detail.aspx

Cooks.com - Recipe - Curried Lentilswww.cooks.com/rec/view/0,162,140178-252193,00.html

Cooks.com - Recipe - Sweet And Sour Tunawww.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1845,148173-254196,00.htm...

Cooks.com - Recipe - Tuna Noodle Casserolewww.cooks.com/rec/view/0,178,141187-243199,00.html

My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch! Recipe: Okonomiyaki: tastier than it lookswww.c4vct.com/kym/bento/okono.htm

Recipe for Okonomiyaki Sauce - Low Carb Recipes .wswww.low-carb-recipes.ws/Okonomiyaki_Sauce.html

Sausage Cabbage Bake - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Sausage-Cabbage-Bake/Detail....

Shrimp Fried Noodles-Thai style - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Shrimp-Fried-Noodles-Thai-st...

Soft Baked Custard - Allrecipespagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/ads?client=ca...
Spam Musubi - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Spam-Musubi/Detail.aspx

Stuffed Cabbage - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Stuffed-Cabbage/Detail.aspx

Sweet and Spicy Meatloaf - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Sweet-and-Spicy-Meatloaf/Det...

Thai Pineapple Chicken Curry - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Thai-Pineapple-Chicken-Curry...

Vanilla Crepes - Allrecipesallrecipes.com/Recipe/Vanilla-Crepes/Detail.aspx

Sacramento History Online

This is a neat place to browse if you're from Sacramento... and would like to go back in time. Check out http://www.sacramentohistory.org/ & the California State Library collection.

Other neat info sources:
PBS has a show on sometimes call Viewfinder that tells interesting local stories. There's also a local guy who's publishing photo history books of local neighborhoods. I'm waiting for the Southside Park book to be released next month so I can buy it. http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/

Ratings and Reviews on RateItAll.com

There's probably a lot of sites like this... but I thought this one was pretty wide-open & interesting.

For those who like 'best of' lists... this could be some fun.

Ratings and Reviews on RateItAll.com

Physics & astronomy with animations

I am a visual learner.

I always loved physics... but stuff like this would have been great in school.
lectures with animations

Lists of topics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I wish I had this when I was growing up. Education in't fun when it follows prescription. Encyclopedias were great... but de-shelving them & flipping pages to find an alphabetical topic was too tedious.

Now Wikipedia... point & click knowledge, that's fun.
Wikipedia is one of my top 5 favorite sites on the web. One can easily spend hours there clicking away on trivial subjects.

Lists of topics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

X10 - Technology from yesterday, creating homes of tomorrow, today!

This company has been around for a while... you've probably seen them.

They aren't afraid to use popup ads or photos of scantily clad ladies. Yes, you can tell the Las Vegas based company knows their market niche... the technophile male consumer who spends too much time on the internet (e'hem, no comment).

Still, the combinations of cameras, remotes, software, and buttons leads me to fantasize how I could pimp out my home automation like Steve Jobs on MTV Cribs!

http://x10.com/

Neave Planetarium

A night sky simulator.

I've always wanted to learn the major constellations... but you can't see the stars in an urban area.
This lets you set the time of year & lng/lat & mouse navigate...

Neave Planetarium

Worldmapper: The world as you've never seen it before

Very cool!

Worldmapper: The world as you've never seen it before