Tuesday, December 30, 2008

'Tis the Season

As the year draws swiftly to a close, we enter one of my favorite seasons: the Season of Lists. If you read the newspaper, surf the internet's myriad of blogs and websites, or watch any sort of news or entertainment news shows on television, you know exactly what I'm talking about. From touching to weird, from serious to silly, this is the season where everyone issues their list of something from the year coming to a close. In keeping with the spirit of the season, I've decided to formulate my own list. I've scoured the world wide web, searching, filtering, and summarizing, to bring you this: the Top Five List of Lists from 2008 (in no particular order)!

From CIO.com, "Swanky Tech for the Filthy Rich"
Click above to learn just how much money you can spend on technology. From diamond-studded do-dads to your own flying car, this list shows just how far you can go being a geek if you have a few million bucks just lying around.

From MSNBC.com, "Msnbc.com's Most Peculiar stories of 2008"
Check out the weirdest stories from MSNBC.com for the past year, selected by readers via MSNBC.com's weekly polls.

From cityguides.msn.com, "New Year's Drops: Thinking Outside the Ball"
New York might be the most-watched New Year's party, but it's definitely not the only game in town. Brought to my attention by my lovely wife, this list gives you an idea of what people outside the Big Apple do to ring in the new year.

From gizmodo.com, "Roundup: Top Weird Gadget Lists of 2008"
Sean Fallon from Gizmodo.com rounded up a list of lists of his own. A sort of managerie of geekiness, these lists pay homage to the nerd in all of us. From "10 R/C Toys That Are Extraordinary (Or Just Plan Weird)" to "10 Gadgets That Have No Business Using a Jet Engine", he gives us ten lists that spark the geek imagination in all of us.

From time.com, "The Top 10 Everything List of 2008"
What can I say? Yes, it's Time Magazine. It's also CNN. So their claim to include everything is probably not far off. Just click. You'll thank me in about 7 hours when you're done.

It's an interesting way to look back on a year that's had so many ups (the first election in my lifetime where you weren't just voting for the guy who made you feel less dirty) and downs (What's that sucking sound? Oh, just the economy...) in just the second half. It helps us keep things in focus, and helps us look back on a year that stands to set trends in politics, the economy, and technology, for years to come.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sol and John

Two of my very great friends.

Nerf Wars

So this year, my parents decided to take it a little easier on the pocket book when it came to purchasing gifts. Being older, of course their children's tastes have grown more expensive, and with the economy being in the state it is, I understand why they would want to hold off on spending. So this year, the emphasis was on inexpensive fun.

I've got to say, they did good. Between the remote controlled car that drives on the wall and a Rubik's Cube electronic game that will keep me busy for hours, the haul this year, though low in price, rivals or beats any from the past few years.

My brothers got into the act as well, in classic form. They found Nerf.

For a mere $7, you can arm yourself with a Nerf six-shooter. This is not your momma's Nerf gun. This is a fully functional, fairly high-powered weapon. I was pretty amazed with how well it worked, especially in the heat of battle. And battle we did.

Here's the setup: 6 fighters on 2 teams, 6 guns, 36 bullets, 1 hallway and a handful of hiding places. Any hit is a kill. Bullets are live until they hit the ground, which means if a bullet glances off the wall and hits you, you're still dead. The hall is split in half, with teams confined to their half of the hall. The team left with a member standing at the end of the round wins. Teams are chosen at random at the beginning of the round, so there really isn't any sort of "team record", but that's ok, because, well, it's more fun than it sounds, and it sounds like a really good time.

We played for about two hours, which was a pretty good number of rounds. I recommend this to anybody who doesn't like to exercise, because it will wind you pretty good. It will also tear your jeans... well, maybe not yours, but it certainly did mine in. But it was completely worth the sacrifice.

So if you have an extra $7 lying around, I would highly recommend wasting it on a Nerf weapon. Good times were had by all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Our Christmas Corner

This is our little Christmas corner. My bride and I struggled several nights to get all of the lights up and running. I think the effort was well worth it.

Laptop Shopping...

My eyes have been opened. I used to think Dell, HP, and IBM were the only name in laptops. It turns out, I was wrong.

Really, really wrong.

This is the Acer Aspire 8930G. It is a sexy beast. Allow me to explain.

Technical Specifications

Operating System: Vista

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T9400

Chipset: Mobile Intel PM45 Express

Memory: 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1066 SDRAM

Storage: 320GB SATA hard drive, 7200 RPM, Integrated Blu-ray Disc Drive, 6-in-1 card reader

Video: Acer CineCrystal full HD 18.4" WUXGA (1920 x 1080) TFT LCD attached to a Discrete NVIDIA GeForce 9700M GT graphics card. This includes a VGA, DisplayPort and HDMI port.

Audio: Acer CineSurround with five integrated speakers, including a subwoofer.

Networking: 802.11a/b/g/Draft N wireless, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, Gigabit wired LAN.

So this is a killer box. I suggested you check it out for yourself.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Twenty-first century bullies...

A law took effect in Missouri on August 28th that makes it easier for law enforcement to prosecute cases involving bullying or stalking via electronic media, such as instant messaging or cell phone text messaging. An article on MSNBC.com I recently read presents some of the facts and background behind the law and why it was passed. I found it extremely interesting, and recommend it to anyone who has teenaged children, or works around teenagers.

This article is scary in a lot of ways. As an IT professional, I understand how technology has made instant communication not only possible, but extremely easy as well. These lines of instant communications are just as useful to families as they are to businesses. It's really no wonder that we see teenagers with cell phones. That link is invaluable to parents.

The Associated Press article posted on MSNBC.com is a sobering reminder of the darker side of instant communication. But what can be done to curb the misuse of these technologies? I think it's a two-fold approach that will need to be taken.

First, parents need to be just as up-to-date on the latest communication media as their kids. They need to understand text messaging, instant messaging, blogging, and social networking. Parents also need to be responsible for teaching their kids responsibility when it comes to using these technologies. Just as we're taught at a young age not to hit or call people names, we live in a world where parents need to be teaching online etiquette as well.

Second, I believe companies that are providing these channels of communication should also be providing the means by which to police them. For example, parents who provide a cell phone to their children should have the ability to view the text messages going in and out of their children's phones. Some might see this as an invasion of privacy. I see it as little more than the digital equivalent of a sock drawer search. Unfortunately, until communications and software companies provide the tools needed, parents are locked out, unable to monitor or question their children.

These problems are real, and they are only going to get worse. The solution is with parents and responsible companies. Laws don't have the power to prevent, only the power to punish. Hopefully, the more adults learn, the better we'll do to protect our kids.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

So that worked well...

I promise this will be the last blog entry about blog entry. It's just that this is enough to make a nerd shriek with joy.

It's an undeniable fact that the world is steadily sheddng its wires. Perhaps I've been a little behind the trend. All I can say is that now that I'm here, I'm here to stay. Between my Bluetooth-enabled HP iPAQ Pocket PC and Bluetooth-enabled LG Glimmer with data plan, I don't have to be anywhere near a computer to do this.

So now that I've got that out of my system, I'll start creating actual content.

Remote Blogging

In order to give myself a better chance of actually sticking with this blogging thing, I thought I'd give a try to emailing my entries.

For being as into computers as I am, I've never really been that into the whole concept of "mobile computing". I have a Pocket PC (which I'm actually using to write this entry), but never really used it for anything other than a calendar, and even then didn't do too well. But, I'm proud to announce, I'm turning over a new leaf, and giving mobile computing a try.

As I said above, this entry is being written on a Pocket PC. Since I carry this thing with me everywhere, I will be able to write entries anywhere I go, which is great since my free time tends to take me away from computers. The downside, however, is that entering a blog this way takes quite a bit longer than with a traditional computer, especially if my handwriting gets sloppy. Which it does. All the time.

I've committed myself to at least one entry a day. I'm hoping being able to do them "remotely" will help me be able to live up to this commitment.

Giving Blogging a Shot

Umm... Hello...

I've always wanted to make this work. I like the idea. But I've never been able to make a habit of this blogging thing. Maybe this time it'll stick.

So my idea is to just write about whatever is on my mind at the time. That should be just about as confusing as any writing can get. But again, the idea of blogging... journaling... has always intrigued me.

So here goes..................

To give you some background, I am a late-twenties, married man living in a major city in the midwest. I work in computers, so you're probably going to read quite a bit about computers and technology. I also play music, which will be another major topic I write about, I'm guessing. Right now I play mostly in churches, but I've been in all sorts of bands, and don't like to limit myself to any one kind of music. So be prepared to read about anything from jazz to rock to gospel to, well, just about anything.

As I said above, I'm married. I love being married. I love living with my wife. This will not become a bitch-session about the negatives of married life, so if you're looking for some drama, so elsewhere. I probably won't write too much about personal stuff, because I'm a firm believer in not hanging your dirty laundry where others can sniff it, and the internet being the ultimate public hanging place, you won't find any here.

I'll warn you that I have a silly, sometimes crass sense of humour (I love a good fart joke), so be prepared. I hope you find my writing interesting, perhaps informative, and at the very least entertaining!

Thanks for reading!