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January 2009

Written By: Gary on January 30, 2009 No Comment

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-SmithComing soon to a bookstore near you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!. The image to the right is zoomed in from the actual cover image on the left.

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” features the original text of Jane Austen’s beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone crunching zombie action.

I’m not joking, this is an actual book by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (obviously Ms. Austen didn’t have much input on the final results). This will be coming out in May of 2009.

Written By: Gary on January 29, 2009 3 Comments

iLife '09 Apple ComputerApple’s iPhoto 2009 has two great new features, Faces and Places. One lets you identify people, the other where photos were taken. It appears to merge with FaceBook and Flickr too but I haven’t tried that yet.

Faces: Wow, the face recognition stuff is pretty cool. Add a name to a person and it helps you identify all the photos with that person. It took some time, but it’s really great.

What’s Faces missing? An easy way to show every face that doesn’t have a name attached. Seems simple enough, thought I maybe I could build a rule, but no go. Fix this and I’m happy with this part. I’ve got 4,000 photos in iPhoto and I’m guessing less than 1% are of people I know.

I’m also afraid to tag photos of me as a kid, will it confuse it? I want to mark some people from behind, will that mess up the algorithm?

As an added bonus, if you upload photos to FaceBook and other people tag the it’s supposed to pull them back down to your computer tagged!

Places: A way to tag all your photos with a location. You do have to specify the photos, so it takes some time. It’s not just cities though, you can put in the name of a statium or roller rink and it’ll tag them with that location. It gives you a map with all the pins in place.

What’s Places missing? A lot! But most seems to be easy to remedy. (Or maybe I just don’t know how to do it).

Place needs a way to show all photos without a place attached to it (sound familiar). I sort of cheated with this one and built a rule for places with no spaces and it worked, until I got to “Egypt”, that didn’t have a space in it, if I could identify the cities those would fall out of the to-do list.

When I type a place, the first few choices should be from places I’ve already put it.

Places needs a way to mark a picture as non-location based (so when they fix the above part it’ll stop asking me about those blank ones).

It’s slow when opening the map with the pins, really slow, can’t imagine when I get more in place.

Bonus (needed) feature for Places: Let me plug in my GPS and you can tag my photos based on where I was! How cool would that be (need an option to adjust for time zones)?

Otherwise the feature set appears to be the same, just two new features…

Written By: Gary on January 26, 2009 2 Comments

dtv-coupon.pngSo they are considering delaying the digital TV transition to June 12th, 2009 (the Senate already passed it). What a pain in the butt, I was so happy this was going to get wrapped up in less than a month!

Senate Commerce Chairman John Rockefeller said delaying the TV switch is the right thing to do because the United States is not yet ready to make the transition.

“The Senate acted responsibly to give the Obama administration time to attempt to bring order to a mismanaged process,” the West Virginia Democrat said in a statement.

If people at this point aren’t ready, they aren’t going to be ready in another five months. If you’re not ready get your $40 coupon here; there are delays at this point but they’ve been mailing these out for the last year.

What do you think? Are we ready?

BTW, this is going to cost the PBS stations $22 million.

UPDATE: The house voted it down (yeah!)

Written By: Gary on January 26, 2009 One Comment

mcrib-locator.pngSo I’m heading up north and thought I’d check the McRib Locater Map to make sure I didn’t miss an opportunity. I haven’t had one in years.

But as you can see by the map (click it a live map) that Michigan is completely bare. Please note that these points are put in by people, not McDonald’s so don’t be disappointed if there isn’t actually a McRib there…

Written By: Gary on January 24, 2009 One Comment

So twenty-five years ago today, Apple released the Macintosh computer. And as far as I’m concerned, they changed the world.

oldmac.pngI was never an Apple II person, I was an Atari 800 guy. Then I used PCs for a while (DOS and Windows 3.1). For years I couldn’t understand why I should switch from my cheaper PC-Windows machine so it took me a few years (8) to get one (after using them in my graduate education program at MSU) but I’ve been a convert ever since. That’s not to say I don’t own a Windows machine (or two) but they’re usually doing mundane tasks, which my Macs are for creative tasks and what I want to use for my everyday stuff.

Here’s a YouTube vid of Steve Jobs demoing the Mac back in a 1984 keynote (wearing a bow-tie).

I think my first Mac was a used Macintosh Plus (with an add-on external hard drive), then a classic (same shape way more power), a PowerPC 6100 (pizza box shape), a tower PowerMac G4 (the first one with a DVD burner) and I owned a few used ones that I picked up here and there (a IIci and IIcx and a Quadra 605 that had been upgraded to a PPC). I paid way too much for the two PowerMac desktops, I did a few processor upgrades to get some more life out of them.

But I’ve also had a few Apple laptops: The PowerBook Duo 280c which in my opinion was the best laptop ever; more of a sub-notebook (1.5″ x 10.9″ x 8.5″) and you could get a dock you could stuck it into (like a big floppy) and it would use the monitor(s), keyboard, mouse and anything else plugged into the dock (hard drive, CD, etc.). I eventually upgraded the motherboard in that to turn it into a PowerPC 2300c and used that for a while. After that I had a PowerBook G3 luggable laptop, it was huge but had power, memory, storage and a beautiful 14 inch(?) display; fully loaded I think that was over $5,000 but it was a heavy beast to lug around. Since then I’ve stuck with smaller 12-inch models: an iBook (I got the iBook instead of the PowerBook because I wanted a smaller model), the first 12-inch PowerBook and the last 12-inch PowerBook (the 12-inch PowerBook is probably my second favorite after the Duo). My latest is a white 13.3-inch MacBook (the fastest plastic model from just before the uni-body models) and it seems like a monster compared to the 12-inch model but I love it, I don’t leave home without it.

Since the Macs were more expensive I generally did a few things to save money. I’d upgrade the memory myself from Other World Computing (they’ve always be notoriously expensive for memory upgrades). I usually used some other brand monitors (even though the Macs have traditionally been better). And I usually used non-Apple printers except for the Apple StyleWriter which was an excellent printer; my first was an old NEC 8023 dot matrix that I purchased an adaptor for, also some HP and Epson ink-jets, a used QMS laser, a used HP lasers and a new HP laser (my current).


To make sure you watched it, here’s a question:
What’s wrong with the above version of the ad?

I’ve also had an Apple Newton (it was way before it’s time) and two iPods. I’m craving an iPhone (or a Touch) and considering the plunge.

So that’s my personal Apple Macintosh computer history. I really didn’t realize I had so many different machines. Out of all of those I had two problem machines: the ultra expensive laptop (2 bad motherboards, but after the second replacement it was perfect) and the iBook (a lemon, multiple problems, eventually the agreed to give me a brand new one). The other laptops have been great and I’ve always beat the hell out of them (scratches, gauges and drops) but they’ve held up quite good.

Lately, I’ve been using the laptops more than the desktops, my last desktop was from 2001 (I’ve boosted memory, hard drives and processor since then) but the last few laptops have been faster than the older desktop so I’ve neglected the desktop. I’d like a new one, I just haven’t been able to justify the dollar$ for a new tower desktop and the MacMini just hasn’t had enough juice (it’s more like a fast laptop) and the Mini really needs a refresh/upgrade from Apple.

So (like the guy in the ad) I can say “I’m a Mac”.

Written By: Gary on January 23, 2009 No Comment

Give Website Grader a try. It looks at a bunch of things for your site (mostly from a search engine standpoint). You only have to give it your website and e-mail (and you don’t even need to give them your real e-mail).

websitegrader97.pngIt makes a few recommendations base on the length of your meta-tags and a variety of other things. It’s not perfect. I’ve noticed some case sensitivity in terms of 301 redirects and I had some issue in the past with it noticing my WordPress feed but as I retest it today that seems to be fine now. They also give you a variety of page ranks and inbound links. And mention if you’re in the major search engines.

It’s nice and easy to use. And one time it did find out something important for me, I had accidentally deleted something and it pointed it out. You have nothing to lose…

Written By: Gary on January 23, 2009 No Comment

So I just found a new video podcast called TMI Weekly, three women (life, tech, style) just doing a talk show type show. I watched about 5 episodes and I thought they were entertaining and informational. I actually found this because I saw it in the TiVo somewhere and all I had to do was click and I was subscribed on my TiVo.

I’m mentioning two non-similar episodes, both embedded below. One is the CES episode which held my interest and even the non-tech women seemed to have a blast.

Visit their site for the CES 2009 episode.

The other episode was dealing with drinking (eating?) a lot of juices. Way more than I think I could handle. But they made it sound appealing.


Visit their site for the Got Juice? episode.

I’ll check them out for a few more episodes. Or maybe dig through their past episodes. Their show is everywhere: iTunes, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, etc…

On one episode they were wearing NonSociety T-shirts and when I went to that link the site (click on their personal blogs) it looked familiar, I know I’ve visited there at some time in the past, but I don’t remember when/what. It was before they started doing this show…

Written By: Gary on January 22, 2009 One Comment

So a bill has been proposed to repeal the 22nd Amendment, it’s the one that says how long you can be president.

The title for H.J.RES.5 (111th Congress) is:
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.

Introduced 1/6/2009 by Rep. Jose E. Serrano [NY-16].

This is a direct link to the Library of Congress search results the actual document isn’t very long. If the link doesn’t work you can do the search yourself: go to the search and search for “H.J.RES.5”, be sure to change the search to “Bill Number” (make sure the 111 is selected at the top).

You know me, I’m not way into politics, maybe someone suggests this every year…?

Written By: Gary on January 22, 2009 One Comment

I used to have a list of blogs that I read on the side of my page. It’s that actual list that I used to use to visit these sites. I did it through blogrolling and it generally marked them in bold when they had fresh data (but lots of sites didn’t seem to update properly). And when I clicked on the link from my site, I probably end up on their referrer list (if they pay attention to those things) so they might check out my site in return.

Now I’m using Google Reader, which I love! And while I miss going to the actual sites, it’s much easier to catch up and stay caught up (and not miss information). Since moving to WordPress I never moved that blogroll over (it was way out of date) and I was needing something new. So I finally figured out how to get that information out of Google Reader and put it on my site (I’ll tell you how at the end).

So now I’ve got my Read Roll (it’s not just blogs) on-line. You can see the lists and the categories that I put them in. If you click the “Read more…” it’ll actually let you read the recent posts in that category.

It’s pretty easy to create this list: when in Google Reader go to Manage Subscriptions (lower left). Put the blogs in the “folder” that you want by selecting Change Folders (on the right side of the screen); you can create folders while you are there. Then click the Folders and Tags tab and share that folder. Then click “add a blogroll to your site” and it’ll give you the JavaScript to add to your site.

I’ve got five folders: Read Roll (sites I read), On-Line Deals (shopping deal sites), WordPress Info (Sites for WordPress tips), People I’ve Met (this is people I’ve known for years, met because of the Internet or people I’ve met and it turns out they blog) and Non-Shared (sites I don’t share). I only share the first four, the last one is junk you don’t care about like: some results of searches I’m tracking, WordPress tracking of certain help tickets, some Technorati searches, some friend’s kids on-line and some other stuff.

The People I’ve Met group is way at the bottom. If I’ve met you and you’re not on the list let me know (most people on this list are also on the read roll). I know there are people that I’ve met (because of the internet) that don’t blog any more (or never blogged) and I’m sure there are people I know (in real life) that I don’t even know blog.

I’m expecting this list to grow after WordCamp Chicago (June 6/7, 2009) will you be on it?!?

Written By: Gary on January 22, 2009 2 Comments

I was actually looking for something else on-line when I stumbled onto this. Kids riding a zip line to get to school!

It sounded like the village name is Los Pinos in Columbia.

Direct link is here

Written By: Gary on January 21, 2009 No Comment

Study Emerald TileHarper Collins books has a free audio book for download. You can download A Study in Emerald from Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things (one story from a book of short stories). And it’s read by Neil too!

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders (P.S.) Neil GaimanHere is a direct link to the download (right-click to save).

Written By: Gary on January 20, 2009 No Comment

Obama-inauguration-speech, originally uploaded by abde.

I like this word cloud of President Obama’s inauguration speech that someone put together. Here’s a larger version of the cloud and a copy of the speech (I think this is who did the word cloud).

There’s also one for Obama’s Victory Speech.

FYI, the whole Inauguration Speech is available in HD.

Written By: Gary on January 20, 2009 No Comment

So I’ve never been happy with most digital calendars. I’ve used them for years, but never been completely satisfied with them, they’re just always missing a few things. Usually I use what’s on my Palm Pilot, a slightly modified version of their calendar with a week view. Sadly, this is virtually the same datebook they’ve had for years and never had a decent weekly view (handspring had a version for a while) so you have to add a program on to do this. FYI, if you don’t have a Mac or don’t use a calendar this post might get pretty boring (even if you do it’s probably not the most exciting) but if you are on a Mac and use Google Calendar and/or a Palm it might be useful.

jan20ical.pngI don’t like more of the desktop software that I’ve tried. If I find something I really like, generally the one thing that puts me off is the view of the days (either one day or a week) they generally show me a 8 or 12 hour block, this is useless to me when I have something outside that block of time, when I glance a the week view, I can’t see appointments that I have in the evening (and those are probably the fun things!). I have so few things on my calendar, I’m not booked for something different every 15 minutes, it’s easy enough to squish things together. It’s computer software, they should be able to do it.

What I’m currently doing is syncing iCal with Google Calendar. It’s pretty quick and has worked well with all the testing I’ve done today (I’ll tell you how at the end).

calendar_goog.gifGoogle’s calendar shows me about 12 hours so I have to scroll to see if I have anything going on. iCal for the Macintosh gives me a nice 24 hour view, but they could easily compress the 1 am-6am section to something even smaller to give the rest more space (I’ve got nothing going on all week at those times) and even the on-line version does shows you all 24 hours. Another minus is that iCal doesn’t have a way to set a default calendar, I want it to chose the one I’m syncing with Google, I can sort of cheat for that but I see that not sticking all the time, but a option to set a default seems simple enough.

iCal and Google lets you subscribe to other calendars; kind of like a live feed that it’s updating to your calendar. When on-line it generally seems easier to add other items to my Google calendar (like when a site lists their upcoming events). While iCal doesn’t make it easy to copy from one category to another (it’s main category to my Google category specifically).

My end result is getting the Google Calendar synced with iCal and then syncing iCal with my Palm, thus having my appointments everywhere (preferably on the Palm and on the Laptop). And then I can use the desktop application for entering info.

If I just sync in iCal I guess they’d be on the web (in MobileMe), but I’d rather have them in Google Calendar. I can do more with Google while I’m on-line and easily add others events to it and subscribe to other calendars but with iCal I can’t see my subscribed calendars in the MobileMe web interface. I could just always use Google Calendar all the time, but not if I’m off-line, I guess that’s why I need iCal. If I got an iPhone this would be less of an issue, I’d just sync iCal with an iPhone and be done with it. Hmm…

FYI to get Google Calendars to talk to iCal I used Calabortion (from Google). I don’t know if you actually need it (I think you can type everything in by hand) but it’s a tiny application that makes configuring a breeze (just need your Google address and password). It’ll even add your subscriptions (go to preferences) but since it’s read-only it’ll yell at you when you sync.

Written By: Gary on January 19, 2009 No Comment

So the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association) has asked people to only text during the inauguration and not overwhelm the cell services with photo images even though they are spending millions temporarily upgrading D.C. I’m not sure how they asked them, but that’s what the NY Times says.

Here’s the fun part! CNN has asked everyone to text them a photo of ‘the moment’. Then they plan to so a PhotoSynth which is to assemble all of the photos to show it from all different angles. The photo synth is a neat option to build a viewable multi-angle “photo” from all the images. If you’re on a PC you can see samples here (actually you can create your own if you have enough photos). Let’s see how that works out. (Found at the Skype Journal.

Here’s a good YouTube explanation of PhotoSynth.

Send your Obama Inauguration photos to CNN.

Follow up articles reporting: FOXnews, PCworld, MS-NBC, CNN, NPR. Sounds like it was spotty but many calls went through first time, but those were PR people from the companies so I’ll wait to see what the attending bloggers say…

Written By: Gary on January 17, 2009 No Comment

wptv-logo.pngWordPress.tv was announced. Lots of instructional video on how to do stuff with WordPress! And there is a feed for the blog and a separate video RSS feed. All appear to be available in HD. Very nice.

It also includes videos from various WordCamps.

Written By: Gary on January 16, 2009 One Comment

It’s totally silly, but I thought it was cute (and it’s making the rounds).


Found at Karen’s and eclecticism (within seconds of seeing it at the other place). Here’s the direct link.

It’s not as cute as my previously mentioned “Star Was as told by a 3 year old“, but how could it be?

Written By: Gary on January 16, 2009 One Comment

So since the last time I looked the temperature has jumped from -8° F to -9° F but the “feels like” has stayed at -26° F!!!! And yet it still says “fair” on the report. But at least they are changing the “WInd Chill Warning” to an “advisory” until 10 AM tomorrow.

neg26degrees.pngAt least it’s bright and sunny out!!!

And for my foreign friends -9° F is -22 Celsius and -26° F is -32 Celsius. I’m not sure many of my Costa Rican friends can even comprehend cold that cold…

Written By: Gary on January 16, 2009 No Comment

It’s been a week since the 6.2 earthquake in Costa Rica (Jan. 8, 2009) and while I’ve been updating my original post with info I thought I’d post another entry.

The death toll is at 23 people with 11 missing. Over 2000 people living in shelters and abut $100 million in estimated damages. This really sums up the whole tragic disaster.

There is a nice graphic of the area up at The Tico Times to give you some idea of location and details.

Speaking of The Tico Times, the latest issue came out today (it’s a weekly paper) and has a lot of information in it (they do sell a pdf of the paper on-line), they generally don’t publish very many full stories on-line other than by subscription but they’ve had a lot up there this week. The first 11 pages of the January 16, 2009 issue of the Tico Times is full of info on this earthquake, including a history of earthquakes in Costa Rica, info/diagrams of seismic plates in Central America a safety quiz and more. I’m not trying to sell you the TIco Times but it’s really got a lot on the earthquake this week and I do like The Tico Times.

I didn’t realize that this was the biggest quake in 18 years. Lately, I’ve heard mention of earthquakes, but I didn’t think I’ve heard much about them before a year or so ago. But I’ve spent more time there lately (4 trips in 12 months) and I’ve been getting The Tico Times delivered to Michigan so I’m catching more news that I would have missed before. I’m assuming it was my lack of information that led me to that misconception and not that they’ve had more in the past year.

There are volcanos in the area of the quake, the closest is the Poás Volcano which is about 10km from the center of the earthquake (about 90 km is the Arenal Volcano, the worlds most active volcano. Volcanos tend to follow fault lines and Costa Rica is right off of the one that becomes the San Andreas fault (if you follow it up a map you’ll see it). . Volcanos and earthquakes in the same place make me extra nervous but that doesn’t seem to have caused any issues. On a side note, the Poas Volcano National Park is closed through Monday due to some unrelated volcanic activity; it seems coincidental but maybe it closes all the time, but I haven’t noticed it in the paper before…

If you haven’t read it since I first put it up, I have added more links and news to my post from last week.

Written By: Gary on January 14, 2009 No Comment

I try not to speculate to much about gossip and things about people but Apple did release a press release on Steve Jobs health today. It was actually a letter from Steve to the staff with phrases like:

“In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.”

“I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.”

I hope everything turns out okay; he can’t be too happy that he’s needed to do this, doesn’t seem like that kind of guy (and I’m thinking he can’t be well if he’s doing this). Two, not having him in charge of Apple will shake things up a bit in the world (rumors do that enough as it is) for at least a few days.

Found at MacRumors.

Semi-Sidebar: I was going to make a comment like “and their stock didn’t do to good today, I wonder what time this was made public” but they did a heck of a lot better than Dell or Palm. It doesn’t look like the market as a whole did too good and Apple’s not that far off the curve.

Friday update – There is a nice “Get Well Steve Jobs” cartoon on Joy of Tech.

Friday update 2 – The Telegraph.co.uk has a health timeline for Steve Jobs, just click and take a peek at the pictures (the 6 mugshots at the top).

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Written By: Gary on January 14, 2009 No Comment

Registration for WordCamp Chicago is open! I don’t know how full it’s going to get so you better sign up quick. It’s a mere $30.99 for a weekend of WordPress goodness.

wordcamp.chicago.pngThey haven’t picked a venue yet, I think it’ll depend on the number of people that sign up but that doesn’t mean it won’t fill up. A little more information is on the WordCamp Chicago blog.

They’ve already got some speakers lined up including Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress. And Matt has one of the coolest website URLs around it’s Ma.tt

Saw this at Lisa’s blog Just a Girl in the World; Lisa (author of WordPress for Dummies) is one of the organizers.

Written By: Gary on January 13, 2009 No Comment

This is one of the shorts that I saw at the Montezuma International Film Festival. A very cool (stop animation) wall painted animation done on the walls of buildings on the streets of Buenos Aires.


Direct link to Muto at Vimeo. If you like it you can download the full Muto movie as a 768×576 avi file.

More info at Blu’s blog.

Written By: Gary on January 12, 2009 2 Comments

Spam isn’t anything I generally talk a lot about but this spam showed up a little differently. It’s a old internet scam but with some graphics and updated to try and get you to help them smuggle some money out of Iraq. It’s crazy that people still fall for these…

I am SSG Dewayne Pittman,an active American soldier serving in Iraq.I am serving in the military of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq.We managed to secure funds from the war zone. The total amount is US$ 9 Million dollars in cash.We want to move this money out of this place.

It’s rare I get these kind of scam e-mails but the graphical nature of this one caught my eye so for some reason I’m sharing it with you. And what language are those characters at the top?!?

The next day: I got a much longer more generic version of this too, turns out I only get 30% and him and his buddy get 70%, that’s not even $3 million for me! What a rip off!

Written By: Gary on January 11, 2009 No Comment

Here is a geeky history of the Internet in about seven minutes (and when I say “geeky” I mean technical). Pretty easy to understand as long as you aren’t afraid of acronyms like TCP.



If you’ve got the bandwidth it’s
available in HD via the direct link or via YouTube.

Eventually all the icons in the video will be released under the creative commons license. It’s not clear when though. If you dig around the site you can find some here and there, it’s all part of the Melih Bilgil’s degree.

Written By: Gary on January 11, 2009 No Comment

As a followup to my post on saving money for the holidays (over at WeLikeMoney.com) I’m going to talk about managing your utility bills, specifically your gas and electric bills.

Your electricity and natural gas bills fluctuate throughout the year: Air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, filters for the pool in the summer, more lights in the winter and many other factors. Many utility companies offer something some kind of balanced budgeting billing (my company calls it BudgetWise® Billing). What they do is figure out what your average bill is, guesstimate what it will be over the next 12 months and start charging you this amount. Every so often they re-evaluate they amount (6 months) and every 12 they credit or charge you the difference.

This is great for those months where you get some outrageous bills, especially if they haven’t done any meter reading in a while. Mine is usually pretty accurate and I’ve never owed at the end. This is a saving feature I’ve never used before a few years ago, I was helping a friend with some really tight budgeting and we wanted a specific amount to budget to; when we set up his, I added it to mine and I’ve enjoyed having it ever since.

Pros and cons:

  • No shocking bills! They are all the same.
  • You could get a big bill at the end (this hasn’t happened to me).
  • If you can do this with gas but not electric (or vice-versa) and they sway differently it might not be as useful (my gas and electric are the same company).
  • If you don’t pay enough attention to your bills you might not conserve enough. Not enough shock might not make you conserve enough, which costs you in the end.

From a budgeting standpoint this makes all my utilities the same every month: cable, cell phone, gas and electric. My water is part of my condo association fees so I’m not sure if anyone offers budgeting on water bills since I’ve always lived in some kind of multi-person dwelling.

Hopefully this works out for you as well as it has for me. If anyone has any experiences on this (good or bad) please leave a comment.

Written By: Gary on January 9, 2009 No Comment

Costa Rica had a huge earthquake yesterday (Thursday, January 8th, 2009), 6.2 on the richter scale (I’ve seen reports that say 6.1). Just north of the San Jose area. This is the biggest one that I’ve heard of in Central Valley. The Tico Times has a lot of the earthquake coverage (you do have to do some clicking and scrolling, they’re mostly a subscription service).

costricaearthquake-2009bpba.pngThey’re reporting about 23 dead with 11 still missing (at least that’s how I’m piecing everything together, I’ve seen numbers all over the place; as high as 30 dead). Lots of damage, mud slides and people trapped in various areas. 1,000+ people relocated and another 1,000+ stranded. If you check out the news stories from around the world there are definitely conflicting reports (especially on the death toll). Lots more earthquake details here and if you’ve got Google Earth installed there are some additional visual details if you click on the spot of the earthquake.

I can’t imagine the chaos and devastation that something like this causes. My thoughts an prayers go out to everyone affected by this…

I’ve been having a hard time getting my head around some of the damage, I found some photos at Inside Costa Rica and a video clip (in Spanish).

You can see many of the areas that felt it on this map, people can actually report it and that’s what feeds the map (don’t know how long they keep these on-line).

How many people are affected by this that I’ve met on my various trips down there? Places that I’ve visited or stayed at the I don’t recognize the names. I wonder how much it freaks out the tourists, imagine if they didn’t speak the language. I don’t speak Spanish well enough, in a crisis, without my translation book, I don’t know what I’d do…

There was a slightly bigger one (6.5 richter scale) in November when I was there, but I didn’t feel it and I don’t remember this much death and damage, but it was way at the south end of the country (I think it might have been in Panama) and if it was a few of my more isolated days I wouldn’t have gotten much news. My biggest earthquake ever was also in Costa Rica (4.3 richter scale) but most people didn’t even notice it (it was just after midnight).

A slightly erratic post but these thoughts have been in my head and wanted to share them…

I’ll add more links below:
Pictures from the Tico Times newspaper (more landscapes and buildings are towards the end).
Photos from al Dia from La Cinchona de Sarapiquí, Heredia
La Paz waterfalls had to close down. I believe some people took shelter there when the roads got cut off (I might be mixing the location up).

FYI, I’ve been updating the details in this posting daily, it was originally from January 9, 2009 but some of the details might be from up to a week later.

Written By: Gary on January 9, 2009 No Comment

I’m guest posting over at We Like Money today.

My post is about using your bank’s Christmas accounts not only for the holidays but other large yearly bills too. So go over and read my post and also check out how Tiffanie and Dave have been working to get out of debt for the last six months.

If you’re visiting Gary Said… for the first time then let me say “Welcome to my home on the internet” and please leave a comment today and mention how you got here. And don’t miss the free Suze Orman finance book download that I mentioned yesterday.

Written By: Gary on January 8, 2009 No Comment

So I found this web site for Calling America that lets you make free phone calls to the United States. It seems to be fully supported by advertisements on the screen. You just type in the number and then you get a pop-up asking if it can use your microphone. You also have to wait 10-seconds before it dials (time to read the ads).

Not the best quality, but if you’re over your minutes it’ll work. My most likely use is when I’ve misplaced my cell phone, since it’s my only phone I don’t have a way to call it and have it ring…

I’ve tried a few calls on it so go check it out. You’re limited if you don’t sign up for their free service (numbers of calls and time length).

Written By: Gary on January 8, 2009 No Comment

Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan Suze OrmanDon’t forget (unless you hadn’t heard already) that you can download Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan for free starting today. It’s downloadable in English or Spanish.

Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. CT on Thursday, January 15.

Written By: Gary on January 7, 2009 One Comment

So I really liked the idea of the TV show The Mentalist. A guy who used to do a mind reading act and talk to the dead (and all that malarky) decides to consult full-time with the CBI (California Bureau of Investigation). He’s a smart-ass with a great sense of humor. Looked to be be a show I’d really like.

The Mentalist CBSBut here’s the catch: in the first episode you learn that he’s really into this because his family was murdered by a killer named Red John, who did it just to taunt him (that’s the short version). So I really thought that part was going to ruin the series, I figured they’d waste ten minutes an episode on the Red John story-line and it’d just be annoying. Surprisingly, I’ve barely noticed it. There has been a few references and a few parts of the story-line tied to it (like his old psychiatrist was in an episode), but it really hasn’t consumed the season. I think there might have been some episodes where they didn’t mention it. I just watched a very Red John motivated episode and I’d say they did it right and I enjoyed it (although the hacking into the secure data-base was a little over the edge, IMHO). My thoughts of this ruining the story-line were unfounded and I’m happy it hasn’t bothered me like I thought it would.

If you’re not watching this show yet you might want to check it out.

Written By: Gary on January 6, 2009 No Comment

So YouTube has three different qualities that I see quite often: Normal Quality, High Quality and High Definition (HD). Every video seems to be available in Normal Quality. Also, High Quality appears to generally be the same size as Normal and those can ben standard format (TV shaped) or wide screen formatted. But I think recently (towards the end of 2008?) the normal became wider to suit more widescreen video, as a result you get black bars on the sides for standard video instead of the tops and bottoms for the widescreen.

But the High Def video shows up as standard size video but the HD video shows up huge on the screen (about 864×480). I remember it being large before, but not that large, maybe it takes longer to convert or they approve it or something or did I just never notice before?

For example, this is the same fire dancing video I posted before and I don’t ever remember it being so big on the screen let alone so clear. Be sure to toggle between “Watch in Normal Quality” and “Watch in HD” to see the difference.

Later: Now I’ve read another article on this at and you can see there is a just as large (it might just be that medium size blown up) but lower quality version (but still HD-ish).

Written By: Gary on January 6, 2009 No Comment

So it looks like some nice stuff:

  • iPhoto and iMovie with some nice updates.
  • The geo-tagging in iPhoto looks cool. Will someone please figure out a way to sync my GPS with my photos for the location they were taken!!!!
  • iWork on-line looks great and that it’ll give GoogleDocs a run for their money.
  • And a way cool app to use your iPhone or Touch as a preview remote for slideshows!
  • The 17-inch MacBook Pro looks great, but 17-inches is just too much of a hassle to haul around. I still think my 13.3 inch MacBook is huge compared to my 12-inch PowerBook.
  • Non-Removable battery for the MacBook 17-inch MacBook Pro. But it lasts 8 hours and 1,000 recharge cycles (triple the standard). It’ll be interesting to see how this works out…
  • The new MacBook has a matte option on the display (that’s for me!) and up to 8GB of RAM!
  • Looks like all music with be DRM free by the end of the year at the iTunes store (I’m not sure if by default it’ll be DRM or if you still have to buy the ‘iTunes Plus’ version or if everything is ‘plus’). And pricing will change older stuff is cheaper and some newer stuff will be more.
  • But they will still have the iTunes plus at a higher bit-rate for more money (I think). Isn’t that how you got the DRM-free before, was with the iTunes Plus?

Check out the MacWorld Keynote Coverage from Engadget, start at the bottom and scroll up.

No new Mini’s, iPhone Nanos or anything that I need.

I was hoping for tethering for the iPhone (connecting the computer to the iPhone to use it’s 3G internet) and a model with more memory…

Written By: Gary on January 5, 2009 No Comment

I love Indexed! It took me a second to get this one…

indexed-com-card2004-380x230.jpg

Yesterday’s was good too, she drew the graph and had the readers label the data points!

Jessica has a whole book of these called indexed (of course).

Written By: Gary on January 4, 2009 No Comment

It was kinda gloomy out and I didn’t want to hike far and get trapped in the rain. I saw a few people gathering for the bus so I asked what time the bus was, I was told 11:30 so I grabbed my stuff from the hotel and went back to the bus stop.


I’m not sure why this looks pixelated, it’s actually way better in High Quality.

A few people showed up at 11:30 but no bus. A few more show up at Noon but no bus. At 12:10 the bus showed up and lots of people showed up by 12:30 (which was the correct time). Turns out this is the one time of day the bus is generally on-time since they stop to get lunch when they arrive here. Why all those others thought it was 11:30 and 12:00, I have no idea, they said those times with no hesitation. I really wish “I don’t know” was part of the Costa Rican vocabulary.

And now that it’s all uploaded, I realize the ocean looks kinda washed out. But I swear it’s right there…

(FYI, I am not in Costa Rica)

Written By: Gary on January 3, 2009 No Comment

So Matt Smith is the new Doctor Who but we won’t see him until 2010. At 26 he’s the youngest Doctor Who although I’m guessing he’ll be a year older in 2010, but he is a time-lord so you never know…

The funny thing is that The Doctor generally uses “John Smith” when he needs a “real” name for something in his travels so the matching name is fun (funny?).

Doctor Who Tardis USB 4 Port Powered Hub Station Character ToysI don’t really know who he is which means I’ll have no preconceptions about him. I’ve seen him with Billie Piper (Rose from Doctor Who) in a Secret Diary of a Call Girl episode but I don’t really remember him.

I originally read about it at Neil Gaiman’s blog and I completely agree with him in that he looks at home in front of the TARDIS and I’m sure he’ll look even more so as time goes one (especially since I’m sure they took many photos to get one that looked “right”).

This is the Daily Mail article with the Matt Smith photo in front of the Tardis. He’s an article from The Guardian and the BBC article with a short video with Matt Smith.

David Tennant’s last show is supposed to be in 2010 (after a weird four episode mini-season) so maybe they’ll make an interesting transition episode?

Written By: Gary on January 3, 2009 One Comment

I can’t believe I’m still doing this with 2,000 posts all over the last 5 years! Never would have thought it grow on me so much!

I was trying to come up with something monumental to blog about for this post, but that didn’t happen so I’ll give you a quick update on some tech (the new blog site) and a few personal things:

  • I’m averaging more than a post a day, but sometimes I skip more than a few days, so I’m going to try and post more consistently (and more images with posts).
  • I’m really liking WordPress, I’ve completely migrated all my old posts (from MovableType) to WordPress 2.7 (at least I think I’ve got all 4,000-ish archive/category/single pages) and mostly updated the “about“-type pages. I’ve been playing around with WP for a year and this interface on 2.7 version beats the interface for the previous six months (it was actually better previous to six months ago, IMHO). I’ll be posting more about my WordPress transition over the next few weeks (I’ve been making notes).
  • Google has done an amazing job reindexing the updated site. It’s grabbed a good chunk of the pages and about 80% of the old pages have disappeared been replaced in the search engine. I’ll be posting more about this too.
  • And I just saw they picked the new Doctor Who, but I’ll make that my 2001st post :)
  • I’m still sick from when I mentioned it last week. The (medical) doctor thinks it’s some lower lung pneumonia on the right side so I’ve just been staying close to home and taking it easy (I’ll get x-ray results next week). Sleep has been the worse, I think maybe the drugs are keeping me up, or I’m just bored. Hopefully I won’t be posting more about this!
  • Even being sick, the holidays were nice and relaxing, exactly what I needed after the last year, I’d have liked some more snow consistently on the ground, just enough to cover the grass. I wasn’t sick sick until Christmas so I made it through everything.

That’s it for now, I gotta go read up more on the new Doctor Who

Written By: Gary on January 2, 2009 One Comment

Found a simple plug-in for WordPress to chart your history of blog posts. It’s just called date-index.


Just put this little piece of PHP code (date-index plugin) on a page somewhere and voila! You’ve got a graph with the number of posts per month in a chart! Unfortunately, there are no options other to modify the chart that I can see.

Written By: Gary on January 2, 2009 4 Comments

I don’t know how I would/could give up the Internet. It’s just too much a part of who I am. I could give up TV and movies (I don’t really play electronic games) if I had to, way easier than the ‘net.

I’d certainly read more. I’ve got 3 new library books sitting here all overdue! I’d definitely play more board/card games, but I need more people for that, I love games.

I’d check out more local music (which I do already) and theatre. And I should probably play outside more, but it’s so cold right now that thought doesn’t really register.

From Friday Question #51 over at ilaxStudio.com

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Written By: Gary on January 1, 2009 One Comment

Happy New Year!!!

newyearseve.jpg

Have a great 2009 everyone!!!

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