Archives » May, 2006

May 30, 2006

Puppies Are Expensive

Puppies Are Expensive

See this? This is the AC adapter for our six-month-old laptop computer. It seems that our new puppy Baxter thought we were spending too much time on the computer and not enough time playing with him, so he severed the lifeline. Almost started a fire by short circuiting the wires, in fact. So Viola’s laptop is offline, and she’s been having to check e-mail and blog from the desk computer, and she’s not too happy about it. Being able to compute from her LaZBoy has become a nightly ritual for her. What is she to do now?

This happens every time we get a new puppy. Ebony chewed through my shoes and wallet. Baxter has already chewed Viola’s glasses and cell phone, this is just the latest victim. I tried to splice it together, but it wasn’t happening. HP must build some anti-splice voodoo into their equipment. So we’ve got an order in for a replacement, and until then our laptop is sadly out of service. This is why I hate laptops; the parts are just so expensive. If the power cord for a desk computer gets severed, it’s no big deal. Those cords are a dime a dozen. I get them at work when I buy new monitors, and when I buy new power supplies. I think I even got one in a box of cereal once. But this laptop adapter? Direct from HP it’s $79. Refurbished you can find them for $45. We got an off-brand replacement for about half that. Hopefully we don’t get burned by not going with original equipment, and hopefully we can protect the new one from those sharp little teeth.

And it leads us to wonder: what’s next?

May 29, 2006

Great Basin Adventure

I’ve got a new photoset up on Flickr tonight. It’s from the trip we took Sunday to the Great Basin Adventure park in Reno, part of the Wilbur D. May Center in Rancho San Rafael. It’s the closest thing Reno has to a theme park, although coming just five weeks after we went to Disneyland it’s a little bit of a letdown. They do have a log flume ride, though, and a walk-through mine exhibit, and a petting zoo and pony rides and a few gardens to walk around, so we were able to kill quite a few hours there. The kids really enjoyed it, so that made it worth the $5 admission. Just barely.

A few sample shots:

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Check them all out!

May 25, 2006

Anonymous Bloggers

I had a phone interview today with a reporter from the Reno Gazette Journal. She’s doing a story on blogs and is talking to some area bloggers, getting quotes and profiles from them, and giving them a chance to plug their sites. And it turns out that, out of everyone she talked to, I was the only one willing to go public with my real name. Everyone else wanted to be anonymous. She didn’t give away any names (obviously) or even their online personas, but it’s not hard for me to take a guess who she was talking about. The two best bloggers in Reno, “Yukon Sully” and “Myrna the Minx“, both blog under a psuedonym. Although if you connect the dots from this post, you can easily figure out Yukon Sully’s alter ego.

One of the questions she asked me had to do with anonymity, since I not only write under my own name, but I also put up pictures of my son, my wife and my niece, and give all their names. And to be honest, I had never really given any thought to being anonymous. I guess when I started blogging, back in 2002, using your real name was just what everyone did. Especially among the influential bloggers that I was reading at the time, like Dave Winer, Doc Searls, Jeffrey Zeldman, James Lileks, Jeff Jarvis, and so on. Everyone used their real name, even named their blog after themselves. And so it just seemed natural that I would too. But now so many of the new bloggers, especially local ones that are just ordinary folks, are starting their blogs under pseudonyms and trying to disguise their real identity. Even my wife, now that she has a blog, is using a nickname.

So what’s the draw of anonymity? Are they afraid of being “outed” among their friends and coworkers? Are they afraid of stalkers coming after them and their family? Do they enjoy swaddling themselves in a cloak of mystery? Do they not want to get sued? As someone who has never been anonymous, who has always signed everything with my full name, I just don’t see the motivation. So maybe all you anoymous bloggers out there can chime in and whack me with a clue stick: why the nicknames?

May 18, 2006


Last week was the week of the E3 video game conference, where all the big news comes out about the upcoming year in gaming. Now, I’m not a big video game player; I used to be, but I just don’t have the time anymore. But during E3 week, everyone is a gamer at heart, and so you have to at least peek in on some of the news. Sony came out with prices for its Playstation 3 that will make you pee your pants ($499 for the cheap model), and Nintendo had some demos of its new Wii console, and the controller that you use not by pushing buttons but by waving it around.

But some of the biggest raves of the show were coming for a video game, one that isn’t even going to be coming out in 2006. There’s still so much development that needs to be done that it won’t be released until 2007. But the creator did give a demonstration of where the game is at, and everyone seems to be talking about it. So I just had to check it out for myself and see why it was getting so much buzz. I found a video of the presentation on Google Video, and by the end of it I was wanting to run out and get a copy of the game. Me, the non-gamer.

The game is called Spore, and it’s an evolution/city-building/civilization-war/space-exploration game. This game is so huge in scope that it begins with you as a single-celled organism swimming around in a primordial soup, and ends with you zipping around the galazy in a UFO conquering and colonizing other worlds. And everything in between. I can’t even explain it, and I know that it’s tough to get the concept until you’ve actually seen the video. So set aside half an hour of your day, and go check it out.

Then you can start cursing that it’s not going to be released for another year still.

May 17, 2006

The Amazing Race Moves to Sunday

The New York Times today has an article on The Amazing Race, and how the ratings were strong a year ago, when season 7 was airing. But now, after the crap-tacular “Family Edition” and the schedule changes this season, first moving to Tuesdays at 10:00, then to Wednesdays at 8:00, the ratings have been dropping. As tonight’s two-hour final episode approaches, this season is bringing in about 4 million fewer viewers than last spring, 9.11 million compared to 13.03 million. The article has quotes from show host Phil Keoghan and producer Bertram van Munster, as well as Linda Holmes, who writes the TAR recaps at Television Without Pity under the name Miss Alli.

The one thing it doesn’t have, though, is today’s breaking news from the CBS upfront presentations. Next year, TAR 10 will be airing on Sunday nights, opposite Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Simpsons, and football. This is another baffling move for a show that, over its lifetime, will have aired on four of the seven days of the week. At least TAR isn’t airing on Saturday, like CBS threatened to do with season 6. That really is the spot of death. And Sunday has been getting more respect lately, with big hit shows like Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy. CBS is also moving one of its ratings winners, Without A Trace, to Sundays, so at least the Race will have good company. But the Race spent four good seasons airing Tuesdays at 9:00, so moving it around this much now seems like they’re just losing interest in it. And why, when they’re faced with the fact that this drop in ratings was caused by a schedule change, would they move it again? Imagine them moving Survivor to Mondays, or something like that. It wouldn’t happen. So why can’t TAR get the same respect?

May 16, 2006

Write Right

Fifty (50!) Tools which can help you in Writing. From Poynter Online, by way of, with a hat tip to No Safe Place.

May 13, 2006


This is not me shredding it on the wakeboard at Topaz Lake yesterday. I wish it was, but no.

This is me, flat on my ass in the water. Sad to say, I had the same problem as so many other first-time wakeboarders: I couldn’t get it up.

Next, time, I’m starting with the kneeboard.

At least I got in the water, though. Viola was happy just to stay in the boat and hold the flag.

May 11, 2006

It’s Really Not A Singing Competition

See, I was just saying three days ago that the voting on American Idol has nothing to do with the singing. And then, just because the universe likes proving me right, Chris got voted out last night in a “big” “shocking” “twist” “episode”. And while this does prove me right that the singing skill of the contestants has nothing to do with the results, it does leave me puzzled. Because there are a lot of other factors that do play into the results, and Chris had most of that going on too. He had the look, he had the moves, and I thought he had the rabid fan base. I guess it just came down to one of those weeks where everybody is tied, and the fan bases go head-to-head. Whoever’s phone line has the least capacity loses. See also Aiken, Clay. Dial Idol predicted Chris going home this week, based on the busy signals, although he was very close to Katherine. Like, within a few tenths of a percent close. I guess it wasn’t close enough to save him. It’s okay though, he has a job waiting for him, probably a better job than singing insipid ballads under the AI contract would have been.

So now we’ve scientifically proven that American Idol is not a singing competition. Because if it was, if it was a purely close-your-eyes, listen-to-the-voice singing competition, the final two would have been Mandisa and Chris. Not to take anything away from the others, but those were the two that sounded the most polished, the most experienced, the least karaoke. But they’re both gone now, Mandisa done in because she bit the gay hand that fed her, and Chris done in by the busy signal. And so the circus goes on another week, the show that is about everything but singing.



May 9, 2006

Too Late For REV

I had no idea that Iomega was still around or still relevant. They were on top for a while there with their 100MB ZIP disks, especially back when the next best thing was 1.44MB floppies. But then the era of cheap CDs came along, where you could get 650MB for mere pennies, and ZIP went away. I dusted off the last of my ZIP drives here at the office and gave them to charity just this week, in fact. And now that we have cheap DVDs, where you can store 4.7GB for mere pennies, I thought we had seen the last of Iomega.

But no! I was looking through a catalog and came across the Iomega REV disk, which is the modern-day descendant of the ZIP disk. These REV disks are smaller than ZIP, and still made up of hard disk platters inside a plastic shell. But now they can hold 35GB! Well, you say, that’s more than a DVD, isn’t it? That’s even more than the new HD-DVD and BluRay discs, which can only hold 15 and 25GB, respectively. So is Iomega about to jump back on top of the world of removable storage?

Don’t count on it happening soon. I was pricing this new technology (which it seems has been out about two years (and I’m just hearing about it now?)), and the MSRP for a drive is about $350-$400. And that’s just the drive; the disks themselves cost about $50-$60 each. I found some places selling everything for about 25% less, but still. That is a fantastic amount of money for what basically amounts to a removable hard drive. And when you can buy an actual hard drive, with more than twice the capacity, for about the same price as one of those disks, going with REV really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

So sorry, Iomega. It’s too little for too much. Try again next generation.