Monday, December 24, 2007

Online Shopping Woes....

'Tis the season...
  • to lose your packages due to etail screwups
  • find that missing package off the porch and in the snow
  • re-order a better deal just in the nick of time
then, take a deep breath and...
This entry was going to be a rant about my least favorite etailer... but in the end, it just seemed more important to re-focus on the Big Picture--Peace on Earth, Good will Toward All.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wiimote Control Woolz!!!

Okay, in typical blogger fashion, I'm now going to advocate a new product--the Wiimote. There is a very ingenious fellow at Carnegie Mellon named Johnny Chung Lee. Johnny has produced the most amazing youtube video of his wiimote infrared camera interactive whiteboard. The Wiimote is the Nintendo Wii Remote Control (and really is called the wiimote.)

This is so cool and it will basically be my hobby and time sync until I have the demo running here at home.... and at work... and at LCHS.....

And even though Wiis are sold out nationwide, getting a wiimote is just a trip to the nearest retailer....

Watch his VIDEO. He has also done some other things with the Wiimote akin to Minority Report. See this very informative Finger Dance.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Trying to think of something to write. Maybe a weekly round up....

  • Spent some time working on ikeys, remote access, and vmplayer
  • Met Martin Michlmayr, former DPL. Known as tbm in all the right places
  • Spent some time educating staff at LCHS about email
  • Need to spend some time streamlining what may be very fouled up machines at LCHS
The machines at school a r e s o o o o s l o o o o w that they are unusable.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Famous Diary

LCHS went to see The Diary of Anne Frank at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. A couple of comments....
  • If you live north of Denver as I do, getting to the DCPA is a snap. Just take Speer off I25 and look for the signage. It's just like going to Elitch's.
  • The Denver Center (as the DCPA is usually known) puts on high quality productions.
  • Bring $CASH$ for parking in their garage. It's quick, convenient, but non-free.
The 2007-12-07 performance was quite good. I'd never been to the Space Theater before. It's a theater-in-the-round and as the cast themselves said, it gives every section an entirely different show. Depending on where you are sitting, you may be face to face with the lead or face-to-tail with one of the supporting actors.... but they do tend to move around so you'll likely be adjacent to someone saying lines sooner or later if you are in the front row.

I mentioned above, " the cast themselves said...", and I should explain. After the shows (at least all of the matinees I have been to), a subset of the cast appears on stage to address a largely school-age audience and their questions. For about 15 minutes, anything goes--from
  • How can I become an actor?
  • Is that your real hair?
  • Do you make a lot of money?
  • How did you get the part--how many people did you have to beat out?
as well as any technical, directorial, etc questions.

This was also my first exposure to the play and I don't recall reading the book/play back in my youth. So, it was all good.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tokyo Rocks... well Shakes

Just got back from a biz trip in Tokyo. Arrived late Monday, 2007-11-26 and experienced my first earthquake in a couple of decades. This was followed by another a few days later--2007-11-30.

The rest of the trip was largely uneventful--much as these two mild quakes were uneventful. Yakiniku (Korean BBQ) in Tokyo is a delicious alternative to more sushi. The Tacos at the Royal Host in Narita's Terminal 1 airport are edible and the burger there is actually quite good. There is no division between the smoking section and the non-smoking section. However, overall there was much less smoke on this trip to Tokyo than my trip two years ago. That's a good thing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkeys for Thanksgiving

Okay, promised to put up some pix. See some of the play pix here and the full flickr roll on the left.

Monday, November 19, 2007

O. Henry, O. Kay

The Ransom of Red Chief was well rehearsed, well executed, and well received. Of course, I'm biased. Pix when I get back to the house.

*My wife was the director and impresario and my son was one of the leads.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Give One, Get One.... while their hot....

Okay, a week or so ago, I posted about the One Laptop Per Child XO and my initial impressions. Well now you can buy one at Well, really you can buy two (and you get to keep one.) Or you can just make a donation. I've donated and my company has matched that donation so that more kids can get their hands on this computer.

For another take on this, see what a co-worker has written: Alex Chiang (truly a world traveler.)

Cold War Hero Receives Posthumous Award

Okay, that title was ripped straight from the newspaper, possibly the Pravda (though now defunct.) I'm referring to this man: George Koval. Many of you who know me, know that I'm also a spy junky. I've never heard of this guy before today. I did a research paper 26 years ago on the Manhattan Project and have followed the Cold War, spying, etc since then. This came as a complete surprise. Read the link above or check him out on wikipedia.

O. Henry

Mrs. Dowdberry is directing another play based on one of O. Henry's best known works The Ransom of Red Chief. One of the junior dowdberrys, Spencer, will be one of the leads. The shows are Friday, 2007-11-15, and Saturday, 2007-11-16, at 7pm at Calvary United Reformed Church. (This is not as per se a "church"-y play though.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I got my hands on an OLPC XO last night. It's a curious, interesting, portable, fun tool. And if no one else borrows it tonight, I'll flash it and see if I can get the mesh working.

You can get your hands on an OLPC XO too and do a good deed at the same time. See:

As Ron Popeil says, in general, "It makes a great gift!"


The One Laptop Per Child program tried to create a $100 laptop. It has created a very cutting edge $200 laptop and intends to put them in the hands of children all over the world. You can help by buying a couple (and keeping one of them.)

Friday, October 19, 2007


I find myself at times just typing fanciful, farcical, non-sensical, valueless comments (in chats and email.... ) I've come to call this behavior typologorrhea. However, there is a blogger already using typorhea as his nickname and that's probably a more accurate term. I was surprised to find no Google hits for typologorrhea so I've just recorded it in my blog for posterity.

Alternate spelling would be tyoplogorhea (with one r.)

Friday, July 20, 2007


This muggle has been re-reading all six of the Harry Potter books over the last few weeks in preparation for tonight's release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. These books really stand the test of time.

Jim Dale's
rendition of the books is absolutely magical. We've got the hardback and the CD set arriving tomorrow.

I'll let you know how it plays out on Monday the 23rd (though a couple of folks who received shipping mistakes have already given it high marks.) JK has a lot to live up to, but I think she's up to the task.

If I weren't a Muggle, I'd just accio Deathly Hallows and be done with it--but I won't download the pirated copy from the Internet.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Camp Geek

Spencer is at Rose Hulman's Operation Catapult for the next few weeks. He told us he is doing the POLYMER SYNTHESIS project. You can email him. He'll be back home in July.

This Dad thinks it sounds like a cool project.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Stuart made the local news today after visting the world famous Little Shop of Physics put on by Colorado State University this year.

Spencer visited CSU earlier this month for their Engineering Exploration Day held by the School of Engineering. This was his first college visit but most assuredly won't be his last. He's dragging in about 20 pieces of mail per week as a result of his PSAT test.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Geek Update

Geeks Who Drink is a recurring bar event at the Trail Head Tavern in Fort Collins. A co-worker of mine recently invited me to sit in on his team....

and we won, so he invited me back last night. Alas, the victorious "I Broke My FEMA" team could not compete successfully in as many categories this week and took a modest but acceptable fourth.

My kind teammates pointed out that I was not officially old, as at least one of their parents was born before I was..... I'm only mostly old.

*note, though called "Geeks Who Drink", I stick to diet soda for health reasons... and it's also free, so that's abonus.

Arctic Update

More snow and more cold....


Expected highs tomorrow (Groundhog Day!) are... 4F.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Mo' Snow

Yesterday was the third consecutive Thursday that snow fell in Northern Colorado. This 4" was of course nothing like the first snow, but the overall cumulative impact is starting to overwhelm much of Loveland, CO. Wednesday was to be the first day of school in town, but it was cancelled as the school district couldn't clear the parking lots and sidewalks in time. Late Wednesday, they had the high school parking lots opened and school resumed at Loveland high schools yesterday. However, they had no hope of opening the elementary and middle schools as there were no public sidewalks cleared (due to the mounds of street snow piled onto them) thus no safe place for children to walk.

Last night's new snowfall merely compounds the problem. OTOH, the moisture is much needed and terrific. Also, we haven't experienced the outages that Eastern Colorado and the plains states have.

I'll throw up some pictures later....

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Ripping Vinyl

I've spent the days since Christmas "ripping vinyl" for my wife.

She wanted very little material for Christmas, but there were a few "honey-dos" on the list:
  • Help clean the house
  • Move her LPs to CD/digital media
Ripping vinyl is the name commonly given to converting an LP into a digital format. Consequently, I've been listening to classics, classic rock, and a few soundtracks. Oh yeah, several comedy albums as well....

If you are interested in ripping vinyl, I can recommend:
ARTcessories Phone/LINE Preamp with USB is an audio capture device. When you plug it into your USB port, it registers as an audio capture device (similar to your existing audio card or microphone.) Sound recording programs (even the simple default ones) should now be able to see and use this card. The device can record LINE level devices (typical stereo components) or Phono level inputs (as it includes a preamp to bring them up to line level.) This has been a completely transparent, rock-solid, no-brainer solution. The ION Turntable USB was sold out over the holiday season. This is a very, very good alternative. (Props to K.A. for suggesting it.) This tool likely works with whatever hardware/software you have and certainly works with Ubuntu Linux and Windows XP.

Audacity is a free, open source sound wave manipulator. It allows you to capture the LP and then break it up into individual tracks. I used (at least so far) no automation to break the tracks up. (You can try and detect "silence" and use that to auto detect the track breaks.) Rather, I used Google Music, Wikipedia, and the album jacket and album itself to learn the track lengths. That information is sufficient to do a straight-forward job of disassembling the LP side into individual tracks. NOTE: This tool is available for Windows, Mac or Linux. I use the Linux version, but my wife uses the Windows version. Caution: The native Audacity file format (.aup) isn't really useful and is a space hog. This is done in order to make audacity very responsive to edits. You will always want to "Save as..." and export to a more usable format once the editing/post-processing is completed. I didn't try and do any pop and hiss cleanup on these files. A lot of folks use Audacity specifically for this purpose. Only one or two of the files would have benefited from this but I didn't have the luxury of time to use this tool/technique.

K3B is a CD/DVD authoring tool capable of creating audio or data CDs and DVDs. I'm familiar and comfortable with the interface (though it really has no especially unique features.) It's a Linux tool.

It takes "play" time to rip the vinyl properly, so each LP is taking "LP time", about 45 minutes to capture and then about 30-45 minutes to post process into tracks, convert to wave files, flac files, and ogg vorbis.

FLAC -- the free lossless audio codec -- is a format akin to WAV but has the advantage of using less space. By saving the FLAC files along with the original LPs, I'll be able to recreate either the CD or the Ogg files at a later date in a fraction of the time.

Ogg Vorbis is a free, unencumbered format that competes (and beats) MP3 format for space and quality. I use it to store all my CDs and LPs for computer playback (and even use a Samsung "mp3" player as it directly supports ogg. Samsung apparently no longer supports ogg vorbis--having sold out to the DRM Nazis. See Defective by Design for a DRM discussion.)