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August 2009

Written By: Gary on August 29, 2009 One Comment

Wow! Did you realize how much information about yourself (and friends) gets shared when you take a quiz on Facebook?!?

facebook-dummies-51Xc1yYSzDL._SL160_.jpgDid you realize how much information of yours gets shared when a friend takes a quiz on FaceBook?!?

The ACLU has a FaceBook quiz that shows you how much quizzes can find out about you. It actually pulls some data (it takes a minute) and then shows you what it can get. Their quiz is only three questions long. At the end they have a link for going into FaceBook and adjusting your privacy settings for quizzes.

Even if you haven’t taken a Facebook quiz, you probably have a friend who spends all day doing so. But did you know that every quiz your friend takes gives quite a bit of information from your profile?!? I’m assuming the same information is given away to applications that you run?

PS – While you’re in FaceBook be sure to add me as a friend!

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Written By: Gary on August 28, 2009 No Comment

The Space Shuttle Discovery is on the launch pad right now. This always excites me and still gives me chills when it takes off! You can watch NASA TV live on their site. At this point, they are in a hold and I think they are still supposed to launch in the next hour (11:59 PM EST).

sts-128.pngI’ve always wanted to see a launch, I don’t know why I’ve never made this happen. I was supposed to go a few weeks ago to see this launch (STS-128), but they moved the date so it didn’t work out. I’ve got to make this a priority over the next year before they stop the shuttle launches.

It’s been 25 years since this ship’s maiden voyage, it was August 30th, 1984 when Discovery had it’s first launch! It was the third orbital vehicle in service (OV-103) and is now the oldest running shuttle. Wow!

Once they introduced the shuttle, I always thought they’d have some way to take passengers. I always assumed that’d be airplane type seats in the bay, like envisioned in the 1970’s James Bond movie Moonraker (anybody have an image of this?).

So let’s just plan to catch a shuttle launch in the next year, okay? Anyone have any tips on going to a launch?

Written By: Gary on August 27, 2009 3 Comments

I’ve generally had pretty great health insurance. But I’ve been bothered that so many people have no insurance. This is a simplification of the benefits of socialized health ‘insurance’.

Here’s the direct link to it YouTube.

Here’s the thing: I think that some kind of socialized health will probably personally affect me negatively. I think that companies that offer great insurance will cut back a bit and it’ll cost me more out of pocket either at work or in my taxes (even if they don’t cut back, it’ll cost me in my taxes). But for more people to have better health care I’m willing to lose some of mine.

* Disclaimer: This is my view-point. I’m not very political. I’m (mostly) just sharing this cartoon and titled the post the same as the video. But feel free to offer your 2 cents on the video.

Written By: Gary on August 25, 2009 No Comment

It’s the little things in life that make me happy.

Watch 100,000 miles on 12seconds.tv


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I’ve been waiting to get to this point for days and days…

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Written By: Gary on August 23, 2009 2 Comments

defygrav.jpgSo I noticed not only does iTunes still have the Defying Gravity pilot for free the next episode is also free (that’s 3 episodes, the 2-part pilot and Threshold) and it’s in HD! So if you’ve been wanting to catch up, now is the time…

Who knows how long they’ll keep doing this, it’s been three weeks for the pilot now. If I knew they were putting up HD episodes all the time, I’d be happy to watch the show a few weeks behind. I’d even be happy if they inserted advertisements to pay for it. Are you listening Apple and the TV distribution cartel?!?

And dont’ forget, all the episodes of Defying Gravity is on Hulu and they’re in 480p if you have the bandwidth.

Written By: Gary on August 21, 2009 2 Comments

From the Friday Question #76:

specialkstraw.jpegWhat is your favorite (cold) cereal? You know, the one you could just eat bowls and bowls of?
So this summer, when I was up north at my Aunt and Uncle’s place, I had Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries Cereal one morning. It was delicious and it’s “Special K” so it’s got to be nutritious, right? Well, it turns out it’s pretty negligible on the being more nutritious when compared to something like Frosted Flakes, and it’s way more expensive. (But don’t tell my aunt!)

So my usual favorite is Frosted Flakes, but occasionally I’ll buy some of the Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries as a treat.

FYI, cereal is more of a snack to me, it’s pretty rare that I eat it as breakfast (especially when at home).

Written By: Gary on August 20, 2009 No Comment

The Lens Day Challenge for this week is Traffic.

costraricatrafficsign.jpg

People in Costa Rica barely look at the stop signs. Do they really think someone is going to read this one? This is a pretty busy sign, no matter where you are. And just in case you aren’t sure: Alto means Stop.

This is on a busy side-street in San Jose, Costa Rica; It’s a block or two east of La Sabana Park. I think it’s this messy intersection off of Calle 40; but if that’s where it is, it’s not even a very good representation of the intersection.

Written By: Gary on August 19, 2009 One Comment

I’ve read the book The Time Traveler’s Wife several times (and when I say several I’m thinking four or five times). This was the first novel by Audrey Niffenegger and it took her over five years to release her second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, which is due out soon (end of September 2009). You can check out a review I wrote a few years back if you don’t know anything about it.

The Time Traveler's Wife SoundtrackIf you don’t know anything about it, know this: it’s not a science fiction movie! I know that it seems counter-intuitive, but the movie is about their relationship and how this “disease” affects it. Henry travels through time and can’t control it, he’s not some tinkering scientist with a lab in the basement. The main thing is that he generally travels to the same places, this is what makes the story work. When he travels to unfamiliar places that’s when there is trouble; did I mention that his clothes don’t travel with him?

I thought the movie was amazing! Obviously, they had to change a few things in the movie. It was so wonderfully done I can clearly remember the one scene I didn’t like and there was one scene that I thought should have been left in. I thought the character’s were aged okay, really more Henry’s character was necessary than Claire’s, since Henry was the traveler you needed to be able to figure out how old he was when he appeared.

The only other thing I’m saying before I offer some spoiler-like things is the only swearing I noticed was the word “shit” and you get to see Eric and Rachel’s butts, so it’s a pretty safe film if your wondering about it for your kids from that perspective (but it is about life and gets intense so it’s not happy-go-lucky for your younger kids). Reviews seem to score about 70-75% but it really seems as if people love it or hate hate it, not many people in-between (35% or 1,700 reviews on IMDB gave it a 10). And don’t watch the preview, it gives away way too much!

It’s a long book with a lot of craziness and depressing parts of life. The movie got rid of most of the bad/extra-depressing parts. It’s still there though: pain, life, suffering, death and it’s a lot more visual than the book. And it’s got lots of sad parts. I actually think it’s more emotional if you read the book since you now what parts are coming.

It really just worked. I thought everything came together very well. I’m not going to rave about it, since I’m sure I’ve oversold it already. There was that one scene in the middle that I didn’t like the way it went, it just didn’t flow right, if you see it remember to come back and leave a comment as to what you thought the worse done scene was.

They added/changed a few scenes too, one scene ended completely differently than I thought it would (but was done excellent). I was really disappointed that they cut a scene, had they not made a fore-shadowy reference to it I might have lived without it. And the way the movie put some parts together it might even have changed things a little bit, but still I missed it. I will say I stayed to the end of the credits just in case they ran that scene, it would have worked really well there, it is a time travel movie after all.

P.S. – Bring kleenex…

Written By: Gary on August 11, 2009 One Comment

Tori always has interesting lighting at her concerts. Lots of changes during the show with more to do with the set and lighting (no actual physical changes). I always enjoy it.

The concert was awesome (as Tori always is), had a great seat, row G (on the right side) so it was perfect. As people cleared out I was able to move up front for the last few songs).

Below I’ve got a few low quality photos (my iPhone is great, but in the dark it’s not so great) and a video to illustrate the lighting.

tori-IMG_0401.JPG

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The video is just a few quick clips so you can see the lighting (I think it’s four clips about seven seconds each).

I’ve never seen this before but if you follow the direct link to YouTube and click on the HQ button at the bottom it makes the movie bigger (like the HD button does). Give it a try.

But I haven’t figured out a way to directly link it to make it the bigger HQ automatically (you can append &fmt22 to force into large HD or &fmt=18 to force into normal HQ but I’m looking for the large HQ answer, anyone?).

Written By: Gary on August 10, 2009 No Comment

Interesting. Mostly because: I blog, I twitter and I try to keep my FriendFeed up-to-date, but there is so much overlap I never know what to how to separate these things and I’ve really been thinking about it lately.

FriendFeed accepts Facebook friend request
We are happy to announce that Facebook has acquired FriendFeed.

friendfeed-facebook.png

As my mom explained to me, when two companies love each other very much, they form a structured investment vehicle…

[From FriendFeed Blog: FriendFeed accepts Facebook friend request]

I’d recently decided that my blog is my real site, my main personal identity on-line. FaceBook was for my non-geeky friends (I look around comments, repost blogs there and I think it grabs my YouTube stuff). My Twitter was for tweets and I’d also auto-magically repost blog posts (including video blogs from Seesmic and 12Seconds. FriendFeed just kind of has everything aggregate there (blogs, photos, YouTube, Amazon favorites, Flickr).

What I really really don’t like is when have a blog post show up at my blog, Twitter, FriendFeed and FaceBook and I get comments from all four areas that unless someone goes to all four areas you don’t see the comments. I really want the comments at my home, not at some other site; I want my comments in just one location.

So I’m really more than okay if it goes away, I think. I’ve been auto-posting the last few days my blog posts with images trying to make FriendFeed a little more useful to the people who subscribe. But I’m not sure if I want people there, or if I just want them at my Gary Said… blog.

Written By: Gary on August 10, 2009 2 Comments

I was at the Detroit Opera House the other night to see Tori Amos in concert (that’s another post) and I really like the building. I’d like to see it in better lighting and take a bunch of pictures with my nice camera to see how good they might really come out.

These were just with my cell hone but I think they came out pretty good.

detroitoperahouse-IMG_0422.JPG

I really like the above one with the jagged edges since it shows the ceiling so well.

detroitoperahouse-IMG_0423.JPG

These are actually exactly the same photo but just cropped differently. It’s five or six photos stitched together (but they were stitched together using AutoStitch on my cell phone) to make one big photo.

Written By: Gary on August 10, 2009 No Comment

If you’re a Doctor Who or Torchwood fan I found a great piece of The Face of Boe fan-fiction. I’m normally not a fan, but this is so well done I wanted to share it.

From The Book of the Face of Boe:
Chapter 12, verse 19:

Doctor Who - 5The Suppliant came and knelt before Him. “Ancient One, what is the greatest sin in the Universe?”

The Face of Boe answered, “Stagnation. Embrace variety, for change is the fundamental virtue of existence.”

“But you have lived for hundreds of millions of years without altering in any aspect.” said The Suppliant. “How can you, out of all living beings, say such a thing?”

The Face of Boe smiled enigmatically. “Perspective.”

If you haven’t watched all the Doctor Who episodes, especially season 3 (with Martha), then you might not know who he really is. Don’t read the story or you’ll get spoilers.

Written By: Gary on August 9, 2009 No Comment

So the reason I was at the Detroit Science Center the other day was to see the new IMAX movie The Alps IMAX movie.

The Alps [Blu-ray] Image EntertainmentFirst of all let me tell you why they had the rock climbing wall the other day. It was because it was the science center members preview and the new IMAX movie was about (climbing) the Alps so they had a bunch of “extras” for the evening. They also had swiss chocolate bars for the first 300 people and free snow cones for everyone. Plus, they let us see the movie for free! It was really fun. I will make a point of going to all other members IMAX previews that they promote like this one!

The movie was visually stunning. And it wasn’t all about climbing, it was about the growth and living in the mountains and all sorts of other (educational) stuff. But the plot/premise was this guy and his father was killed climbing one of the mountains and how he needed to climb it (40 years later) to get past it. It was a little crazy in my opinion, but ignoring that, it was really good!

The weird thing is the movie is already out on DVD and Blu-Ray, they even had it for sale at the Detroit Science Center (their web site is down a lot).

Written By: Gary on August 9, 2009 No Comment

So the rumors this week are that in iTunes 9 that Apple is going to add Application Management. My iPhone would be a lot more useful for me if it had that, I’m always installing and trying apps and it messes with the order of everything. Here’s a concept that someone ut together a few months ago.


View iTunes App Management on Youtube

It’s very Apple-ish but some of it’s pretty complicated for what Apple likes to do.

The above is pretty close to what I’m looking for. But I’d take something way more primitive…

Written By: Gary on August 9, 2009 No Comment

This week’s word associations are

Death :: Funeral
Identified :: Body
Saturday :: Weekend
Dumped :: Sad
Division :: Multiplication
Stilted :: Jilted (or is that because it rhymes) maybe it’s time for the dictionary?
Crimes of :: Passion
Stumped :: Quiz
Future :: Time Travel
Team :: Go (as in Go Team)

Check out the list every week at Unconscious Mutterings

Written By: Gary on August 7, 2009 No Comment

So I made a plea a few weeks ago looking for a case for my iPhone (zero responses). Just couldn’t find the one for me, I want something not too bulky but I wanted the screen to be protected. I was worried about damaging the screen, I’m not so concerned about scratches to the case (or even around the edge of the screen). Although when you try to take things in for warranty repair, I’ve learned the less damage to the case the better.

Seidio Innocase II Surface Spring Clip Holster Combo for iPhone 3GS, 3G (Black) SeidioSeidio Innocase Holster for iPhone 3G and 3GS - Black SeidioI think this is the case for me, it’s the Seidio Innocase II Surface Spring Clip Holster Combo for iPhone 3GS and 3G. When they say combo it’s really two products in one it’s this holster with a separate form fitting case for the iPhone that fits in the holster. What I really really like about this is that the screen faces in. I loved my cheaper holster but the screen faced out and that made me nervous.

The form fitting case is nice because it’s not too big and it makes the darn iPhone a lot less slippery! It’s easy in and out of the holster. And the holster has a stopper on it so that the phone cannot slide and release the pressure of the spring clip, it pretty much has to be intentionally released to remove it. I love it and since I’ve been using this I’ve stopped looking at other cases for my iPhone.

The case fits so tightly if you’ve got a screen protector on your iPhone make sure it’s on perfect or it’ll hit the case, I had to peel it back (it wasn’t perfect) and trim it back (now it looks bad). And I think it definitely runs a little hotter with the case on.

Here’s the problem: Since I’ve got the case now it doesn’t fit in my car holder and it’s a little tight on my bicycle holder (a future post). And it fits so tightly it takes way too much time to remove.

So if you think this is the type of case you want, it’s definitely worth the extra money and it seems very well built. Just make sure you pick the “combo” so you get the holster and the case; the phone doesn’t fit in the holster without the case.

Written By: Gary on August 6, 2009 No Comment

One of the activities at the Detroit Science Center tonight was a rock wall. I’ve never done one of these and I’ve always wanted to try it! They wouldn’t let me wear my sandals, but fortunately I had some other shoes in the car. This was a blast and I’d definitely do it again some time!

rockwall-wave.png
I figured I better wave right away just in case I fell.

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This was the point where I yelled down to check that
this was just going to let me gently fall (if I fell).
I was getting a little high and the holds were a little farther apart.

rockwall-neartop.png
At the top there’s a button to press to ring the bell.
Can you see it up where the wire comes out?

rockwall-onthewaydown.png
This is me on the way down.
It was actually a pretty fast/smooth process.


And this is me all the way down, the woman running it says that happens to the “big kids” a lot.

I almost did it again so I could get it all on video to see how it looked. Maybe next time…..

Written By: Gary on August 4, 2009 No Comment

So iTunes has the Defying Gravity pilot for free! And it’s available in HD! It’s probably only free for a few more days (but who knows). (UPDATE: Defying Gravity is on Hulu in 480p.)

defygrav.jpgI forgot this was going to be on this week, I set the TiVo up a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure where it’s going to go. I think it’s only on for six weeks, so don’t fall too much in love with it.

It’s in 2052. It’s not a super high-tech 2052, they’ve got cooler TVs and while the spaceship is great, the rest isn’t that science fiction-ish. But you mostly forget about it. What really caught my eye was that we don’t have a Space Elevator yet!?! They had to launch to get up to get in to orbit (to get on the big space ship).


Direct link to the preview.

So they astronauts (think) they’re on a mission to all the planets in the solar system. But there is some mysterious (alien?) intelligence guiding their way, so who knows what the mission actually is.

It’s got an A Fine Frenzy song (Last of Days) in it too! About 30 minutes in if you have commercials, probably bout 22 minutes in without. She’s awesome!

Written By: Gary on August 4, 2009 One Comment

Here’s this week’s Manic Monday questions:

Both were really easy to answer, at least there were to me.

Would you rather go a week without bathing, but be able to change your clothes, or a week without a change of clothes, but be able to bathe?
Even though I like to take showers, I think I’d go with the clean clothes. There really is some magic in “the magical powers of a new shirt” (a reference from The West Wing), getting rid of the dirty sweaty shirt can make you feel much better about the day.

If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose?
Doctor Who. Preferably the 2006 season. Traveling places and times (and saving people).
Torchwood would have been a good choice but they way they keep killing characters, I wouldn’t last a month.

From Manic Monday #178.

Written By: Gary on August 3, 2009 4 Comments

I’ve been having some odd dreams lately, I wish I’d been writing them down. Since my mind is blank from the ones from a few days ago. They weren’t all as strange as this one but this is the only one I can remember.

In this dream I’m staying with Heather or her father but it wasn’t a place I recognized. I don’t even want to say it was in MIchigan, but where ever I was, Dave (also known as Dave2) from Blogography was in the area and I was hanging around with him.

Dave and I are driving down a divided highway, Heather didn’t come but she’s always busy with stuff so not coming didn’t seem so odd at the time (even though she was passing up a chance to meet Dave), I’m not sure where we’re headed (the Apple store? a blogger meet-up?) but I’m pretty sure we’re not in Atlanta. Then all of a sudden some car is flipping over and I grab the wheel to swerve us out of the way (you’re welcome, Dave) and while we can’t see what’s going on, it’s like traffic is blocked by the authorities ahead of us. But we don’t really see them, so we don’t know what’s up. Dave turns us around and heads down the shoulder back to some country road that we had just passed. But we once we get there we can see traffic is halted down the side roads too.

I get out of the car to see if I can get closer to see what’s up, there were flashers so something is going on. It’s like “they” were there to block off the road before there was even an accident. As I’m cutting across a strip of field to see what’s going on, something clears up and the cars start moving and I lose Dave. Then I’m moving very fast as I’m alternating between busy roads and empty roads as I try to catch back up…

And that’s about it. I’m not sure why it ended, I didn’t feel like I woke up from the dream. Maybe it really happened and “they” wiped my mind after and they just didn’t go back far enough!

I didn’t feel so much chased as I felt in a rush or something like that. Still feel a little anxious as I think about it. Something was going on. Something conspiracy-ish.

But that’s all I have for this story, it’s been running through my head today so I thought I’d share…

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Written By: Gary on August 1, 2009 No Comment

They’ve now released 12cast to record and post video to 12seconds.tv for the iPhone 3gs. And it’s free! This lets you shoot video and upload directly or upload video that you’ve already shot. It’s interface is very simple (see below) although I think it could use a few more features (see below).


12cast test on my iPhone on 12seconds.tv

I’ll probably be testing this a bit this weekend so keep an eye on my 12seconds.tv channel http://12seconds.tv/channel/garylapointe/ and feel free to subscribe.

If this seems fun to you, you better go get 12cast before Apple pulls it from the store for some reason!

FYI – If your iPhone doesn’t do video you can still use the original 12seconds which lets you narrate 3 photos to make a 12secons.tv video. Here’s a sample I did.

12cast.pngNeeds a few really quick features:

  • Show me today’s 12seconds.tv challenge!
  • Needs to give me an option to upload it to 12seconds without going to Twitter.
  • Needs to let me type tags (and remember tags from previous upload!).
  • Needs to let me use update location (and autofill with GPS!).
  • This one probably isn’t so quick: Need a way to trim the video. Mostly if I’m trying to record myself it’s always jumpy at the begin and end. (Apple needs a way to set the API so you can click a button to “start recording in 3 seconds” and have it countdown.)

I really wish they had combined it with the older three photos application, I’ve got so much crap on my iPhone I really don’t need an additional application, but I can see some use of the other app too.

Written By: Gary on August 1, 2009 3 Comments

I’ve never even heard of the Michigan Central Station before today. I happened to see a photo of it in the (overly-dramatic titled) The Remains of Detroit photo essay on Time.com (which got mention on one of The Economist blogs) yesterday.

Michigan_Central_Station.jpg

Opened in 1913, the terminal was designed by the architects Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stern, the same firm that designed New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. “It’s staggering,” says Hemmerle, “that such a phenomenal piece of architecture could stand empty for twenty years.”

– From Time.com

I did a little more looking and found this six minute video.


Direct link to Michigan Central Station video.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard mention of such a huge train station in Detroit; at the time it was built it was the tallest train station in the world. I can’t even picture it, so I might have to take a ride this week to see where it is.

I guess the city was looking to demolish earlier this year and I never heard a peep (someone is suing Detroit since it’s a historical landmark). And they filmed some scenes for the Transformers movie here a few years ago, never heard anything about that either.

The video mentioned 75 trains in and out a day. I felt like those were mostly passenger trains, but maybe I was wrong. I’ve mentioned many times before that I love the train but now the Detroit station has six passenger trains a day (see page 2), three going west and the same going east from a small building near the Fisher building. These are the same trains that hit the Dearborn station a mile from my house which makes it very convenient when I want to head towards Chicago.

Photo courtesy of WikiPedia.

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