Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

In perhaps one of my biggest bids to justify my existence, I have released the best Kitchen Sink portable software collection yet. Torrent coming soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Five questions for Kevin Smith

Awhile back I was at an event that the amazing Kevin Smith attended and I asked him a question that was already addressed on the DVD he put out. This bothered me and I've been trying to come up with a really good question ever since. Here's my top 5:

1. A lot of people I know were affected by the movie Dogma. I was surprised that it became this cultural touchstone by which I could discuss religion with people who usually didn't. But I'm curious how your religious views over time have changed -- and maybe you could explain that by telling us how you would have done Dogma differently if you had made it right after Clerks (his first movie) like you planned, as well as what it would look like if you made Dogma right now.

2. It seems like you call people "Sir" in a playful way with (friend and co-star) Jason Mews and others. To me, its said in an affectionate way but also implying that we're supposed to be adults, but really we're not. As if we're all just pretending to be adults, when really we're all just a lot of dumb kids. Is that something you consciously thought about or is it sort of something automatic that you just developed?

3. George Lucas started out doing indie film and became a very powerful force in Hollywood. You've been very available to playing in the background and not spending too much money in any direction, knowing that will keep you in movies for years to come. But if you had a breakout hit that put you in the top spot in your industry, what would you push the industry to do differently? Put another way: what sucks about movies right now that someone aught to fix? What if it was you?

4. You interviewed Bruce Willis recently and this was the first time I felt like you might almost be a little starstruck. What caught me about this is that you're a Hollywood director who's had some very big names in his movies and yet you're so down-to-earth. Your art is filled with referees to people overcompensating, while you are so straightforward. Almost every interview, you discuss things so normally, like we're your neighbor and you're telling us a funny story about our other neighbor's dog. How is it your characters are so delusional while you're so clear-headed?

5. As a natural storyteller, who impresses you lately as a storyteller (in any medium) and have you drawn any inspiration from them?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

When language becomes meaningless

Following up on this piece by the geniuses of public relations: a bullshit generator.

My favorite so far: "implement impactful convergence"

Update: seems someone came up with a website made up entirely by this type of tool.

Monday, February 16, 2009

GWB vs. History - revised

In a followup to calling former President George W. Bush "worst president ever," an article by the Associated Press uses a more scientific method to rate W 36 out of 42 by a poll of historians. Although not the worst, it seems almost satirical to describe him as the best. The article better embraces his effectiveness in a crisis immediately after the 9/11 attacks, which were lauded worldwide.

The article also points out that current events do affect historical viewpoints, but it doesn't look like history has a chance to vindicate this president, as so many have suggested.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Original Photo: Safe Way

Photo edit - Lindsay W.

Original Photo: Lapse-ish

Original work - Nov '08

Original Photo: Outlasted

Original work - Dec '08

Original Photo: Storm night 2

Original work - Aug, '08

Original Photo: Storm night

Original work - Aug, '08

Best ways to keep your car running

Some good tips from the guys at Car Talk.

Related: Minimalism

Niether Christ nor the Antichrist are white?

Who else saw this coming? Barack Obama is the antichrist! First line on the page:
Oh come on -- he totally is! Haven't you seen his jumpshot? Its way too perfect.

What to do about the economy?

In a strong case for the current stimulus, John Stewart talks to John Sununu about the economic recovery and the recent Republican focus on taxes, pointing out that the last 8 years have been about reducing taxes to stimulate the economy and that's what got us where we are now.

Additionally, Republican lawmakers including John McCain complaining that our children must pay this debt seems hypocritical as a Republican-controlled federal government who, for the last 8 years, reduced taxes while spending more.

Still, even with a line of thinking that seems to favor the current stimulus package, where does it end? Just because Bush Jr. pushed the deficit to record levels at a record rate, the opposite of this failure is not to spike it higher and faster. Are Americans just numb to this issue? Someone's got to pay for this someday. Someone must kill the level of comfort we all feel with being in debt both personally and nationally.

Is the only advocate I can find for this really "they have been positioning Obama for a long long time" Ron Paul?

Music: Jazz - Brad Mehldau

This video looks odd but the pianist is pretty obviously a genius. He does a Radiohead cover, getting so many notes wrong, yet getting all of them right. More from Brad.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

If you're going to get kidnapped, be attractive, white, and female

Much better chance the media will give a rat's ass. Not that I don't hope they find the girl in this case, its just that the media only deals with one type of kidnap victim. A recent movie of course taps into this and the villains are of course middle-eastern.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Top 10 portable freeware (Windows)

A top 10 list of software you can take with you.  The latest version of my collection is coming soon.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

How to be an awesome girlfriend

A silly look into a very real conversation I seem to have at least once a week, and not just about women.

Random electronics advice

Where possible, buy any an all electronics from warehouse stores like Lowes and Home Depot have far better prices, especially on surge protectors (I recommend APC) and most cables. You can save even more with Ethernet cable if you're willing to learn how to "crimp" your own (video).

Don't buy electronics accessories from accessories stores like Radio Shack, which is frequently overpriced, fragile, and low-quality. Best Buy isn't much better, making most of their margins on service plans and accessories because prices on computers and monitors have to stay competitive.

Truth on TV

Been very impressed by the series Lie to Me. The concepts associated with micro-expressions, psychology, and understanding situations all give rise to a sense of pulling away the veil from things and to actually describe truth. It even references real public personalities to reinforce points about expressions and emotions makes it especially familiar. The show mirrors a detective story format but going beyond just a "whodunnit."

Monday, February 02, 2009

Converting Blackberry Voice Notes (AMR to MP3)

Although Media Coder will convert most any media file to most anything else, this tutorial focuses on audio files from my Blackberry. There's many other listings online for converting AMR files that Blackberry phones use, but this is far, far better:

Before recording files, prepare the Blackberry:
  1. Save time and effort by getting a Mini-SD card installed in the back of the phone. The advantages here are recording much longer as well as easier to transfer.
  2. Go into "Options" - "Media Card" and enable "Media Card Support" and "Mass Storage Mode".
  3. Plug in your phone via USB cable.
Converting the files:
  1. Download Media Coder. While you only need the audio edition for this task, I recommend the full program.
  2. Install the program. Although this program is supremely customizable, just use the default settings when asked.
  3. Once open, click the taskbar icon to open the window and select "Add" and put the files or directory that you want to convert (hold CTRL or SHIFT for multiple files).
  4. Once your files are selected, look in the lower window and select the "Audio" tab.
  5. From the Drop box next to "Encoder", select LAME MP3.
  6. Move the preset to the right to "voice".
  7. Then click the "Start" button at the top of the window.
By default, the mp3 files should appear in the same folder where the original files exist. If your AMR files are on the desktop, your mp3 files will appear there too with the same file names (but ending in .mp3). You're done! Listen to them to make sure the quality is what you want, then delete the originals.

Note: An alternative program to MediaCoder is XMedia Recode, a program that has similar functions, but I've had less success with. The site is in German but the program can be downloaded and switched to English with little effort.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Repairing a WinXP install

For a computer that has no activity after the boot screen, you may need to do a repair requiring just the your XP CD and its key. In my case, the motherboard and processor and the machine needed to be changed out. Saved me a big headache.