Friday, February 19, 2010

Too Fat To Fly?

I'm sure that you've all heard / read this story by now, but Southwest Airlines asked Kevin Smith (of Clerks, and many other of great movies) to leave since he didn't buy an extra seat on a recent flight.

I'm a much larger man than Kevin Smith and I don't fly unless I absolutely have to for many reasons. 

1. Comfort.  I want to be comfortable, and I want you to be comfortable.  Trust me - if I'm taking up some of your space, it bugs me far more than it's likely bugging you. 

2. Freedom.  I like to be able to get places when I like to arrive.  I'm not a big fan of trying to dash between connecting flights because the airlines left less than 30 minutes between the first aircraft landing and the second one leaving.

3. Sense of Safety.  I know what you're thinking, "you're more likely to die in a car crash..." and I absolutely agree with that statement.  However, with all the cuts that airlines have been making lately, they aren't buying new aircrafts, and they are cutting corners when it comes to passenger safety.  I feel safer on the ground, even though I might not be...

4. User Experience.  The last couple times I've taken a flight, I would have rather had teeth pulled due to the horrible customer service that I received.  Call it what you like, but I just don't have time or patience for incompetence and the staff that I interacted with was loaded to the hilt!  I like meeting people, I like talking to new and interesting folks and maybe learning a little bit more about places.

I guess these reasons are enough for me to keep loving road trips!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Google Voice - I'd like to check it out...

I've been wanting to check out Google Voice now for some time.  I've applied for an invite, however haven't seen one yet.  Here is a good post to introduce you to what Google Voice can do.

Hopefully sometime soon I'll be able to let you in on my experience with it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Setting Up For The Listening Party

I'm pretty excited about this Friday evening.  A few friends are getting together at my place to listen to some music and exchange stories and beer. 

I've setup the room and have the capability to play songs in CD, LP, iPod, and Cassette Tape formats.  I purchased a new USB turntable from - got that setup today and it works really well.


I was even able to hook it into the PA system, so we can really rock out.  :)

I'm looking forward to hearing some new tunes, and learning about some artists that have some connection with my friends. 

Not everybody that I invited will be able to make this event, however I hope to have one of these once a month in 2010.  I'll also post up the songs that we listened to and the names of the beers that were exchanged.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Solar Project #1 - Outdoor Lighting

You'll remember my post about renewable energy and how I'd like to use solar energy to accomplish a couple goals this year.  This post will begin the first project in my list of three projects for 2010.

As a reminder here are the goals of this project.

Order and install outdoor solar lighting to replace wired lighting on my shed.


Completion Date
March 1, 2010

I have ordered and received this lighting kit.  The cost for the kit was $39.99. My next step is to figure out where I would like to install these lights in my yard. I currently have outdoor lighting installed on my shed, however the wiring for these lights was not properly run and the line was cut when I decommissioned my septic tank back in 2007.

I'm looking to complete this project this weekend.  I'll post before and after pictures on this thread.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An upgrade of DSLR for shooting video?

I recently had a conversation about upgrading my DSLR camera to a newer camera body.  Until now I couldn't really think of a great reason to do this, but then I read this article and it got me thinking about it some more.

Unfortunately, this purchase wouldn't be a small one, so I'll need to give it some more thought before making the decision, however this starts the market research part of my journey.

I'll likely want to stay with a Nikon since I've been so pleased with my D50 and I'd like to keep the lenses that I have already invested in.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

It's that time of year again where people get to show their love for their significant other.  So what if you don't have a significant other?  Today I focused on me.  I did end up going out with a friend for dinner and drinks, but I'd be lying if I told you I was quite happy that I didn't have to worry about impressing someone, or getting them a gift.  Chalk another Valentine's Day gone and maybe next year will be another chance to show someone I care...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lights of Vancouver

Through the end of February you can submit your design to control the lights over Vancouver.  A very cool project. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Even your dog can Tweet

I found this article via Fast Company and got a pretty good chuckle.

I'm holding out for the cat version.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Site: Vanity License Plates for the State Of Michigan

I've been having way too much fun with this site.

Give it a try - see what's available.  "URMOMMA" was available when I looked.  :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rest in Peace, Captain Phil

I've been a fan of the show "Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel since it first aired, so I was sad to hear the news that Captain Phil Harris passed away.  He definitely brought character to the show and let fans of the show get to know him through the years, his tough sides and his big heart.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Starr gets his Star!

Ringo Starr has received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.  The Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison also have been awarded stars.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Renewable Energy Sources and a Spring Project or two...

Reading an article today on Fast Company has me thinking about renewable energy sources and how I might be able to use them to my advantage.

I did some research after I bought my house (2006) and found that it was just a bit too expensive to jump into the solar market for replacing "the grid" with a renewable source of energy.  There is also the fact that such energy is unpredictable.  These factors stopped me from trying to drum up an investment of $20 - $30,000 to move forward with this project.

I did however, go ahead and invest in solar lighting for the front yard.  This had good results through the summer time frame and mixed results through the winter when there is much less sunshine on the property.

In 2008 I researched the cost to run power out to my garage so that I could use the garage door opener and some other items requiring a pretty small amount of power.  The suggested way to do this was to put a new breaker box in with 100 Amp service to the garage.  I received a quote for $1800 and decided that was out of my budget range for completing at that time.

Since then, I've thought of other ideas, such as running a line of the existing breaker box, however it's a good 150 ft away from where I would have to run the line.  That's quite a bit of digging and likely a bunch of permit work.

I'm now starting to think of other ways that I might be able to accomplish this and some other things around the house using renewable energy sources, such as solar power.

I think the next step for me is to invest a little bit of money in some more training before dropping the cash on the hardware.  The reason is two fold.  First, I really want to understand what I need to buy and second is that I want to know how to install once the hardware arrives without killing myself while trying to do it.

Once completing the training I think I'll look at some off-grid starter kits or pole mounted kits from Mr. Solar and choose one to fit my power needs.  The grid-tie systems really interest me as well, but the cost is much greater as it needs to tie into your existing power and will use the power that is generated from the sun through the day and then just use the power it needs from your power company at night.  If you have enough sun, there may be days when you don't even require additional power from your provider... man that would be a great thing!

Project #1

Order and install outdoor solar lighting to replace wired lighting on my shed.


Completion Date
March 1, 2010

Project #2

Come up with a way to use my garage door opener without having to run power to the detached garage.


Completion Date
June 1st, 2010

Project #3

Come up with a way to power my house on a small scale during electric outages, which I have quite a few of during the year on Sugarloaf Lake.


Completion Date
September 1st, 2010

I'll go into each of these projects in detail in separate posts.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Texterity / Coverleaf

I've been a member of PMI (Project Management Institute) since 2005 and I received my monthly PM Network book this month through email.  I was surprised to receive it digitally as I've been getting the print copy for some time, although I do think that I changed my preferences lately. 

Something caught my eye about this digital book though... it was really nice.  The interface that was used was extremely friendly and well made.  I started to wonder if it was made with Adobe software and started doing some research.

What I found was that it was made / delivered by a product called Coverleaf, which is the flagship product for a company called Texterity.

I then started to check out the magazine titles that have signed up with Coverleaf and was very impressed.  I'm going to see if they have readers on other device platforms, but I was really impressed at the delivery of the content.  It's very easy to read, interact with and print sections and even share clippings on many of the social media sites!

Here is a sample edition of Fast Company delivered by Coverleaf.

Kudos to Texterity for making such an easy to use interface!  I can definitely see many more print publications using this format for electronic delivery.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Weekend Research

It's safe to say that I've been feeling a bit lost lately, see my previous post on goals and purpose in life.  I'm not the kind to sit quietly by and just let things happen.  I do believe that I have some control over my life and so this weekend I've started to look at some options that may assist me with becoming a better person.

After doing quite a bit of research, I think I may be ready to find out more information on becoming a Mason.  There is a lodge in Chelsea and I'm thinking of stopping by next week to gather more data before making a commitment, but from what I've read so far, this is looking like a good match.

I have been a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles since 2006, and although I've found friendship and made very strong bonds with brothers and sisters at this Aerie, I'm just not sure that I'm getting what I signed up for when I joined. I heard words like brotherhood, loyalty, compasion, respect and yet when I visit the Aerie, this is not always what I see.  The monthly meetings lack focus and are often disorganized. 

Although I'll likely stay a member of the Eagles due to the friendships I've made there, I still find myself searching for more. 

I'm excited to learn if the Masons "talk the talk" and "walk the walk". If they do - I see myself committing to become a better person and walking side by side with them to make for a better world.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Tool: Virus Removal

Virus removal on a personal PC can be a pretty involved, time consuming process.  I figured I would give you some links to some of my favorite programs to help clean up your PC.  All of these tools are free and the links I'm posting are current as of February 2010.  I'm going to be working on a friends computer over the weekend, so I've just grabbed all of the updated versions for myself.

Spyware Removal
SpyBot Search and Destroy - an old favorite, I'd run this at least once a month to make sure your home computer stays clean of any spyware that might have been loaded.

Malwarebytes - this tool is very handy for detecting and removing Malware.  I would suggest running this tool at least once per month.

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool - I've used this recently and have had good results for identifying and removing spyware / malware.

ZoneAlarm - there is still a free version of Zone Alarm, however it has much more advertising in it than the old, better version had.  This can make it a bit more frustrating to use, however it is better to have some protection rather than having none.

AVG Free - In my opinion, this is a great free anti-virus application.  Of course, you'll want to give this one access to update it's database daily so that if offers optimal protection.

General Cleanup
CCleaner - it stands for Crap Cleaner and that's just what it allows you to do; clean all the crap off your system!

Do you have favorite tools for keeping your computer clean? 

Leave a comment with information.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Microsoft's Well of Creativity

I ran across this opinion article in the NY Times and thought I'd post it here.  It's an interesting look at Microsoft and the lack of innovation that has come from it within the past ten years as compared to the 80's and 90's.  The most interesting part is that it was written by Dick Brass, who was a VP at Microsoft from '97-'04.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Shortness Of Days In The Life Of The Aged

Have you ever wondered why time seems to go by faster as you get older?  Here's a link to a Slashdot post that links to an MP3 that talks about several possible explanations.  Let me know what you think...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Budget

I'm not sure why I'm going to do this - but I'm going to read the United States Budget.  Perhaps it's because I heard that President Obama has cut some NASA spending in regards to the sending people to the moon, which I think is a very smart idea.  Instead he'll be investing in the research of technology that would allow us to investigate space further than just the moon in the future.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Taking Stock...

The best part about February is that you get to look back and see how you're doing on your new year's resolutions and goals.  This year was a crazy year for me and goal setting.  I have no fewer than one hundred and fifty goals written out, broken down by month.  It's going to be a great year ... and a very challenging one.

In this post - I'll take a look at how I did through January as well as officially launch my new year's resolutions.  What better way to commit than to have 31 days in before saying that it will be something I resolve to this year.

  1. No more fast food.  Since January first I have not had any fast food.  To tell you the truth, I don't really miss it.
  2. Workout every weekday before work.  In January I managed to do this and work up from a thirty minute workout each weekday to my current workout which is one hour.  Although I haven't lost any weight, I'm ok with it, as the goal that I made was to get up and workout every weekday morning in January and I did it!  This will continue into February.
  3. Dive back into the technical side of things on the web world and re-learn Flash and Flex.  I've done a great deal and even completed my first freelance job in January.  I'm back folks.
  4. Post a blog entry per day every day of 2010.  If you've been following, then you know I've managed to do this through January as well!
  5. Begin immersing myself into technology and business by reading more and listening to podcasts instead of music on the way to work.  Done.
  6. Start to take my photography hobby a bit more seriously and learn more about the art and what makes a good picture.  I'm well on my way for this one, I do have lots to learn though, but I think it will be great.  If you've seen my Photography Goals for 2010 then you know just how much work I have ahead of me.
  7. Cut down on going to the bar.  I've cut this back quite a bit and what I've found is that I like being at my house and feeling productive.  Go figure.
  8. Re-learn French.  I'm proud to say that with the help of Rosetta Stone, January has seen me make it through the first Unit of French.  There are four units per level and I plan to make it through a unit per month.  There are five levels total.
  9. Take a moment or two to do a mental health check on myself.  Work on building self-esteem and self-confidence.  Courses like "The Psychology Of Achievement" and a couple from David DeAngelo have been helping out on that front.  I'll look to continue with these classes in February.
  10. Launch a local user group.  I have been given the ok from Adobe to try to launch the Chelsea Adobe User Group. I look forward to this challenge and I'll that I'll learn by doing it.
Oh there are so many more things I'd like to list, but I think I'll save it for a post later this week when I'll lay out my goals for February.

2010 has been an interesting year so far and I look forward to the challenges it brings me....