Saturday, November 29, 2008

Parasailing

So in addition to a whale cruise today I also went parasailing for the first time. What a blast! That's a lot of fun. Give it a try if you can...

video

Dolphins up close and highly personal!

We went on a 5pm "cocktail" cruise with a whale watching company. We did see a couple different whales way off in the distance (and I got one mediocre picture of a whale tale that I'll try to post later), but the highlight was a visit from some bottlenose dolphins. They actually aren't known for being quite this friendly, but apparently we got a rare treat.


video

Thursday, November 27, 2008

OpenID and image and video tagging

For those of you who use Facebook (and I'd guess MySpace and others), you know about image tagging. For those that don't, well, let me explain it briefly. If you post a picture to your Facebook account that has people in it also on Facebook, you can opt to "tag" the image. A simple editor opens and lets you click an area around their face and then you select them from your Facebook friend list. Then Facebook keeps that data in a database and if you want to look for pictures of your friends, you can find them easily. It's very cool.

But it's also very Facebook specific. Why? Well, because Facebook has no other way to do it. Generally, people don't have any kind of Internet-wide identity (other than your email address, which is not something you want to "tag" based on since it gives your email address to anyone who can view said picture). OpenID has been formed to let people have Internet-wide identities, but it is gaining momentum VERY slowly. Google is moving to support it, as is Yahoo, but even those guys have been slow to do it (though if you have a Blogger account, you do already have an OpenID!).

I'm not going to explain it other than to say basically your "ID" gets tied to a web address. It can be one you own or you can sign up for one (like your blogger web page) and you can then use that as your "ID" to create forum accounts in other places, etc. They simply authenticate you against the Blogger ID instead of you having to create YET ANOTHER stupid forum identity. (You can still create a handle type identity on the forum for people to call you by, rather than them calling you by your web address.)

Okay, great. I'm not just Donnie Barnes, I'm also www.carefreeway.com. Nice. But until more sites support OpenID, it doesn't get me much. Hopefully soon more forum administrators will add support for it. If you want it, ask your administrators politely.

But what I want to talk about now is another way to put acceptance of OpenID, and that's to get support directly into image and video files to "tag" people with their OpenID. Then YouTube and the like could let you search for videos containing certain people. I'd also love to see support in video files (and video editing software like iMovie) so that you could "export" any of the text you add via text overlay (think titles, credits, subtitles, etc) as keywords that could be searched by search engines. Currently you can only do that by hand depending on the video hosting site. This should be IN the video/image file, not some proprietary attachment.

I think we're headed in this direction, but people need to start asking their software providers for these things!

More fun with iMovie and The Flip!

So here's a video I put together of snorkeling in Maui. Only a couple minutes long.



This one is getting published with YouTube instead of Blogger because Blogger won't let you make it bigger. It'll probably be lower quality, though. Tell me which you like better in the Comment section.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It oughtta be a law!

There really ought to be a law that hotels must advertise the height of their shower head. I'm really sick of hotels that have shower heads at 5'6" or so when I'm 6'2". It's a serious pain to use those, and I really think it could be a safety issue. While we can't really mandate what height hotels put them at, I think having to advertise the height would cause more hotels to fix their low shower heads for fear of losing business, and if they don't at least people like me could choose their hotels accordingly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sea Life Park video

So here's my quick video from Sea Life Park, shot with the Flip MinoHD. It's edited with iMovie on the MacBook Pro and is just over ten minutes long. It took me less than thirty minutes to put this together.


video

Friday, November 21, 2008

Video camera in your pocket?

Think it's too good to be true? A decent camcorder in your pocket? Think again. I just got a new Flip MinoHD and I love it. It's so easy you can't imagine. Hit the power button and hit record. No muss, no fuss. Hit the play button to go back and view your recorded videos. Want to watch them on a TV? No problem...the included cable has normal RCA video and audio plugs that work with almost any TV with spare inputs. But best of all, the ease of which you can send them to your PC is incredible. Pop out the included USB plug and just plug the entire camcorder into your PC or Mac. Copy the files over. You can upload straight to Youtube or your favorite video editor easily.

The video in this blog entry was shot with the Flip MinoHD and I should have more videos uploaded shortly. The zoom works, but I will say it's really just a digital zoom and thus when you zoom in you do lose some resolution. But it's simplicity and ease of use and size make up for this minor difficiency, in my opionion. It recharges from your computer's USB port and has one hour of storage built in (and probably not much more than that in battery life, but that's all you need!). It does take some time to offload the video to the PC...fifteen minutes worth took about ten minutes to copy over, so it's not terribly fast in that department. But that's WAY better than trying to send video tapes to a PC as that can generally only be done in real time.

Real camcorders with good optical zooms and other nice features do still have a place, but this thing is smaller than many cellphones people carry and thus you're likely to have it on you when you need it. That's worth a LOT right there, especially if you have kids. Oh, and the price is pretty good, too. At the time I got mine the HD was $230 with the normal resolution one at $170. Well worth it, I think. The video recording in any cellphone I've ever tried was pretty horrible. This is way better.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sea Life Park

Just a quick note...if you ever find yourself in Oahu, HI, check out Sea Life Park. The place is a little run down, but the shows are good and the kids can really interact with the animals a lot more than at places like Sea World. Well, assuming it's not crowded, which was how we found it. Here's a short video of the dolphin show.

video

The kids had a great time there. I would recommend eating somewhere else. The food wasn't horrible, but it wasn't very good, either. But compared to prices on everything else in Oahu, this place was pretty reasonable on admission.

I'll upload more videos when I have a faster connection. Shouldn't be but a day or two.

Before you press that 'Forward' button...


...stop. Take a deep breath. Go have that first cup of coffee. Or walk the dog. Or read a story to the kids. Or, well, all of the above. Then follow these simple guidelines.

Okay, there are three major types of things people "forward" via email to a LOT of people at one time. The first is chain letters. If you ever even considered sending one of these, seek medical attention immediately. And if you send one to me, you might have to seek medical attention! Basically, what I'm saying here is just don't do it. There is really no good reason. You won't get good luck if you send it. You won't get bad luck if you don't. It's just clogging the Internet for no reason. And you know that down deep, don't you? That's right...click that delete button. There you go. It really is okay.

The second is the good old fashioned internet joke. Hey, if you have to forward it, feel free, but please don't send it to me. I've been on the Internet since 1990. I've seen it all. At least ten times. Really. Plus there are about a gajillion different places to go read jokes on the Internet already. If I want to read a joke, I'll go read a joke or two. Besides, it seems like most internet joke forwards are really things told as "true stories." And they aren't true at all. The one about the blond who thought she was shot in the head only to find she had a can of biscuits explode in the backseat? Not even remotely true, and it's just not funny if it didn't really happen.

The last is the most controversial, probably. The cause. You got it, you read it, and it tore at your heart strings. It made you tear up a little. Or a lot. Whatever. But before you go sending it out to everyone you know, please check its validity. The single best place to check is snopes.com. You can go there and search on just a couple words from the subject line or body of what you received and in most cases you'll find you're looking at something either fake or at the very least completely unverified and unable to be verified (which means it's fake). If you can't find it at Snopes, try Googling it. It might just verify. Or Snopes will tell you if you have a positive, too (some things listed in Snopes are indeed true...try reading up on the copyright of Happy Birthday for an interesting story).

Now, if you've sent me one of these in the past, please don't think I'm mad at you. I'm not. I used to do this kind of thing myself. But since I've found out that so much of what's forwarded around isn't true, well, I've made it my mission to stamp it out. And that not only means telling you that your Forward wasn't true, but it means trying to get you and everyone else to check these things first. If we work together, we can make the truly bogus things go away. But if you mess up and send me one of these, well, I'm likely to just point you to this blog post. If I did that and you read this far, well, figure out which category you're in and act accordingly in the future. No need to respond...unless I told you otherwise, I still love you almost as much as before you sent me that email. Almost. *grin*

Monday, November 10, 2008

If I were president...

No, this isn't some commentary on how much better a president I'd be than everyone else. That would take too long. *gulp* Nope, this is about the things outside of all that in my life that would have to change if I were president.




First, there's basketball. My favorite hoops spot is near home in Chapel Hill, so that ain't happening. But apparently Obama intends to put his own court in the White House, so I could do that, too, and still play. It would be a different crowd, or I could just sneak my crowd back and forth on Air Force One two times a week.


Next is the car racing thing. This is a big problem. I'm pretty sure that you folks out there in taxpayer-land wouldn't appreciate me taking 20 weekends off per year to go race cars. So what to do here? Well it's obvious. I'd simply have to figure a way to race under a pseudonym with a disguise maybe only ten weekends per year.

Then there's all the blogging, facebook, and forum stuff I do. This part is very hard. I'm a big believer in being yourself online. I try to never engage in debates online with people who obviously maintain their anonymity online. I am me, no matter where I go for discussion, and I prefer to interact with like-minded folks (like-minded in that they don't care to be anonymous...if I only talked to folks who were like-minded about everything else I'd stay pretty bored trying to find someone to talk to!). They tend to only say things that they'd say in person and not "keyboard-commando" that way. The one true answer here is to just create an alternate name and still just "be me" and chalk it up to "dammit, I'm the POTUS I can do what I want." So I'd be Onnie Arnes online. Sure, people might draw a link, but then they'd be like "nah, couldn't be." Especially if I occasionally used some broken english.

Then there are my kids. Can the kids of the POTUS be in Boy Scouts? Can they play youth league basketball? I don't think we've had a president in modern times with kids younger than teenagers, anyway. And that was Chelsea and I don't think she got out and did much. I know I could show them the world from Air Force One, and I could say cool things like "because I'm the president!" instead of just "because I said so!" But would having them shadowed for like the rest of their lives by secret service be worth it? Eh, sure. I'm the POTUS.

I don't even want to think about what this would do to my wife. She won't let people cook or shop for her at home, and she'd get awful tired of aggravating the secret service guys to go with her every time she needed to run to Michaels. She'd be miserable. Plus I'd say stupid things like "we can have a chef and a shopper so quit whining to me about not having a Lowes Foods nearby...I've got to save the world AGAIN." On the plus side if I did have a race car accident and needed a reason why I was beat up I could just tell the world I said that to my wife and she did it. Poof, instant alibi.

I love me some college basketball and football. This one is a toss up. On the one hand, I wouldn't get to go to a lot of my favorite games. On the other, I could have some shlep of a staffer whose job it was to record every game I liked and then edit them down to skip the commercials. I'd be so busy that I wouldn't mind watching them a little after they actually happened if I could watch the condensed versions like that. Heck, I might get a high end enough shlep that he could put in replays for me automatically of plays I'd like to see again. But then there's the real plus side of being the POTUS when it comes to sports...box seats for all the biggest events! I know what you're saying..."but Presidents generally don't do that." HAHAHAHA. Sure they do. They just do it behind some one-way glass and make sure nobody KNOWS they are there. I'm the POTUS and nothing is stopping me from attending the SuperBowl, World Series, Final Four, and whatever else I want to go to!

On another plus side, I'm currently banned from buying a helicopter of my own. With being POTUS and all I wouldn't have to buy one BUT I'd still get to put a heliport in at the ranch so that helicopter the Marines have could fly me in. Then after I wasn't president any more I'd have to buy a helicopter. Wouldn't make any sense to have a heliport and no helicopter, now would it?


Hmm, I think it might just be too much. I know I could win if I ran, but I'm just not sure it's worth it...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Life is Good.

It's no secret to those who see me on a regular basis that I like Life is Good clothing. But that's not what this is about, even though I stole the title and logo for this post. This post is about technical stuff, but technical stuff for everyone. Ever visit a web page (particularly maybe an eBay product page) and want to email a link to the page you're on to someone? You can drag and drop or cut and paste the URL directly into an email, but you end up with a really ugly long mess sometimes.

There are several sites that reduce URLs for you, but my favorite is http://is.gd (and it's easy to remember once you know the creators think of it as "is good"). You copy the URL you want to send to your clipboard, visit http://is.gd, and paste it in the box. You'll have a new tiny URL returned to your clipboard. Paste that URL in your email and when someone clicks it, they'll get your intended page. Seem like a pain? Well, it is a little. So if you use Firefox, streamline it the process using this plugin. Now when you're in Firefox viewing a page you want to make a shorter link to, you just click the "is" button to the left of the URL in the top of your window. You'll have a new shorter URL put in your clipboard automatically that you can just "paste" into your email (or whatever).

Very handy.

Movie Review

Growing up, I loved to catch reruns of the TV show Get Smart. There was just something great about it that I can't really explain. I was apprehensive, however, that the movie might be yet another over-the-top remake that turned something good to something incredibly stupid (like Dukes of Hazzard...ugh!). Mel Brooks was the creator of the original series, so I should have checked to see if he was involved in this one. Fortunately he was, which likely played a part in it being true to original.

All in all I thought it was a fun movie. True to the original with the addition of a few more modern fight scenes. Be warned that it isn't for small kids as people are killed as well, which I don't think was true of the TV show. But the violence isn't terribly graphic. I thought Dwayne Johnson (still perhaps better known as "The Rock" from wrestling circles) was really good, too. Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway were perfect in their roles.

If you like Mel Brooks movies, you'll like this one. Oh, and some folks might know that I own a Smart car. I got a personalized plate for it...KAOS. Really, it couldn't be helped.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wow. Just Wow.

So the voters of California voted to ban same-sex marriage and now some gay rights groups are advocating everyone sympathetic to their cause should boycott the entire state of Utah. Unbelievable. I'm sincerely doubting very many people within the state of Utah put in any hours on this election. It was likely Mormons who live in California who put in most of the hours on this. Add to that the fact that Mormons are not near 100% of the population of Utah, and you have something really silly brewing. And pathetic at the same time.

I understand protesting at Mormon churches and temples if the gays want to. As long as they do it lawfully, they have that right. Just like what the Mormons did in fighting same-sex marriage. But to potentially punish both non-Mormons in Utah as well as Mormons in Utah who had nothing to do with this is wrong on so many levels, especially when there's no outcry to do anything to punish California or the movement against it THERE. Sheesh.

For those wondering, as of 2004 the state of Utah was about 62% Mormon with the percentage on the decline. Projections show if the current trends continue that the percentage will drop below 50% by 2030.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Things I wonder...

So what happens now for Obama? I mean in the time between getting elected and taking office. It's kind of a long time when you think about it. I know he's got a lot to do what with appointing a staff and such, but how and where does he do all that from? I'd guess his secret service protection is stepped up, but is he just going to be around the house working from some office he already had? Or is there some "president elect" space somewhere? And we know the White House is pretty much furnished, so what does he do with his own house and "stuff"? Do you just pack your clothes and leave it like it is for four (or eight) years? We know you can have pets at the White House (hopefully the security deposit is high)...does he have pets? If not, will he get a dog or maybe a cat? If he does, will that animal have its own secret service agent?

And on the secret service, just how does that work? I know they can't tell me, but I still wonder...how are they staffed? Is there two months where the current president (or POTUS as is so en vogue to call him now) just gets sort of half his normal security? Or do they bring in some secret service agents from some temp secret service agency? Surely in DC there's like some temp firm you just call when you need large bald men (bald because they obviously shaved it, not because they lost their hair) in dark suits and earpieces with several large hidden guns.

Will Obama be allowed to play basketball now? And if so, who does he play with? I mean I'm sure he had some group of buddies that played with him before, but do those guys now get to play with the POTUS? Or does he have to make the bald dudes in the suits drop a couple of their weapons and get their sweat on? Or does he just call up Michael Jordan and say "hey, MJ, this POTUS...Air Force One is in your area, wanna hop on and meet me for some one on one?" I'll bet MJ would go just so he could say "I schooled the POTUS." Well, I've seen POTUS-elect play and I could school him, too, so maybe he wouldn't.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why do we allow straight party tickets?

I know the presidential election isn't part of it, but other important elections are. Why do we allow ballots to be done that way? What possible rationale is there for it? Can people who truly want to do that not fill in a few extra bubbles? Seems like allowing elections to swing simply because of convenience is silly.

Now we have a governor who is chastising her own crowd for being rowdy because she "used to be a teacher" and looking like a twit doing it. It's entirely possible that had there been no straight party ticket on the ballot she would NOT be the governor. Amazing.

Katie Couric is just plain bad.

I rarely watch any of the big network news shows, but when I do I tend toward CBS. I know Couric has been on the job for a while, and things were shaky when she started, but I thought you had to give her time to settle into the new job. She's had plenty of time and she's still bad at it. Just tonight during election coverage they talked to a reporter in the stands at the stadium at FSU where folks went a little nuts when the cameras came on. She said something very close to "well, young people love to be on TV, no matter how foolish they look doing it."

Why would you say that? I just don't get her. She's a constant stream of mis-speaks and errors and just plain poor questions. How does she still have this job?

Monday, November 3, 2008

My body is a pretzel.

So over the last couple months I've noticed that my left hip has gotten tighter and tighter and the area middle to the lower part of my back on the right side has gotten tighter. It's gotten to the point it's caused some back pain and strangeness. Massage has helped, but with my racing schedule and with trying to get some workouts in, I just haven't been able to get but like one massage per month.

But what I've finally started to notice is what I think is the cause, and it's driving. Both competitive and on the road. The way I sit so that I have maximum foot control combined with all the "work" my right leg gets doing gas and brake seems to be aiding this "condition." In the race car, the brake pedal requires a good bit of force, but it must also be VERY controlled force. The clutch pedal, on the other hand, just requires occasional quick hits and little "control." Combine all that with the fact that I've done a LOT of driving in the last three months or so (both competitive and street) and we have a problem.

In racing circles, I do what is called "right foot braking" only. If you're going to downshift while braking, you have to use your right foot on the brake. But many racers also use "left foot braking" when they aren't downshifting, and that is exactly what it sounds like...using your left foot only to brake. I think it's time I started using left foot braking on the street everywhere I can to see if that helps this condition. Of course, I'm also stretching a lot more, doing hot-cold tub therapy, pool workouts, and won't be in a race car much for the next few months. We'll see how all that plays out.

What is "hot-cold tub therapy", you might ask? Well, that's the practice of spending two minutes in a hot tub (around 100F, maybe a bit more) and going immediately into a cold tub (about 45F) for one minute. Repeat three times (though it's okay to add one more hot tub trip at the end to warm back up). What does that do? The heat causes blood vessels and such to dilate (expand) and the cold causes everything to contract. So you get a pumping effect that helps free up and flush out the inflammation (and contaminants that cause it). It's a terribly annoying thing to do, but seems to work and work well. Tiny booties for your toes help, though I've found the biggest problem is an inability to breathe well in 45F water.