January 31, 2007
Dear Flickrsphere

Take deep breath.

(Props to Alaina for the inspiration)

Yes, Flickr is making us old skool Flickr folk use Yahoo to log in. Many of you are acting like this is the end of the world. This is not the end the world.

You will recognize the end of the world by cats & dogs living together.

Besides the log-in name, you are also whining about being limited to 3,000 contacts and 75 tags per photo. If these limitations bother you, you are a fucking freak. Yes, needing to exceed 3,000 contacts and 75 tags per photo is a condition that only the seriously unbalanced are worried about. The Flickr people won't tell you that, but that's exactly what they are thinking.

Look, I'm old skool Flickr. Caternia herself personally told me to switch to Flickr from Photoamerica for this weblog. I understand the concern about Yahoo breaking Flickr, but nothing is getting broken here except for people that are a few Prozac shy of a pharmacy, kind of loons.

This ain't hard.

I mean really. "OMFG, I have to use an 8 letter username instead of a 6 letter username! Grab the pitchforks!"

Everything is the same on Flickr except for the aforementioned freaks. To those freaks, I have no sympathy. Your requests are unreasonable. You are not losing your Flickr identity or your photos. You are simply changing your login in credentials.

Just stop with the "I'm quitting Flickr!!!1!!!1!" type posts on your weblogs. Nothing is better than Flickr for photos and you know it. You know your not switching to something else, so save your righteous indignation for something else.

Posted by michael at 08:20 PM | Comments (5)
January 29, 2007
Even More Boss Coffee

After a trip to the Mitsuwa Japanese supermarket, I am now in the proud possession of the following:

I'm not sure why I enjoy the Boss Coffee so much, but I do.

Posted by michael at 10:38 PM | Comments (5)
January 28, 2007
A whole new level of Geek

My eldest daughter Zoe, loves herself some anime. As Loyal Cruft Readers may recall, we dressed as Naruto characters for Halloween. This weekend was the Anime Los Angeles convention. After gathering the approval of our family cosplay/anime expert Rachel, I decided to take Zoe to her first anime con.

Now, I'm been to sci-fi cons, gaming cons, all kinds of cons, but I had never been to a anime convention in costume to be part of the cosplay. Cosplay takes things to a whole new level of geek. I mean, I'm a corporate exec type, not a crazy cosplayer right?

Before I knew it, it was Saturday morning around 9AM and I was standing my kitchen dressed as Kakashi, drinking my coffee wondering if I was really up for this. Zoe was nervous in her Hinata costume and beyond excited to go. There was no backing out now.

Once we got there, I knew it would a different kind of convention as we walked in the door and someone yelled out "Yay! Hintata!" runs up and give Zoe a big hug. Zoe had to explain that the other girl was dressed as an older Hinata.

Within about 30 minutes, we were in the groove and I had been asked to pose with other people a few times. I was a bit perplexed by a girl wearing what appeared to be a bikini made of cotton puffs, wearing a mask like mine, and nothing else. She and her girlfriends were laughing up a storm. Zoe informed me that she was dressed as Sexy Jutsu Kakashi. It took me until the next day to actually find out what Sexy No Jutsu was.

Soon enough Zoe made friends with another group of Naruto cosplay kids and the rest of the day was spent following them around like some sort of ninja bodyguard.

We had a great time at the convention. I was a little bored at some times when Zoe was watching other kids play a Naruto video game while she waited for her turn to play. The highlight of the day was the Naruto gathering at 3PM.

Some of the costumes were fantastic in their detail and match to the 'real' anime designs. People put their hearts into this.

There are a lot of rules and procedures for the gathering and the immense amount of photos that are taken. More than once a teenager ordered me in and out of pictures and I simply obeyed. Who am I to mess with the system? ;)

You can view my set of photos on Flickr, if you want to see more of the gathering.

Overall the people were nice and inviting to newcomers. For many of the people there, the con is a place where they can enjoy their passion and noone thinks they are strange. Zoe is hooked and didn't want to leave even after 9 hours. The next day she begged me to go back all day long.

The next big anime convention is Anime Expo in June (or 'AX' as we cosplayers call it...). We'll be there, in fact I better go make our reservations now.

Posted by michael at 10:15 PM | Comments (4)
January 24, 2007
Six years of Cruftbox

Well, I missed the actual anniversary by 3 days, but six years ago, I started posting on my site as a weblog. I had been posting stuff on my site since 1997 in pure html, but I consider it a weblog when I started using software to post. Initially I used Newspro, since my hero, Lum the Mad, used it.

Take a look at the first postings. Hrrm, I was writing about video games and trends on the internet. At least I'm consistent.

The site came into being in 1997 as a family site, but in June 1998 I started fairly intensive work on detailing the adventures of my guild in Ultima Online. For the next four years, that was the main focus of my online presence. Cruftbox started in 2000, but most of my effort was on things like the Cookie Story, which in it's time was considered hilarious. Just to claim the credit, I was basically blogging about events in a virtual world in 1998. How far ahead of my time was I, huh? ;)

While I wasn't in the elite group considered as the first webloggers, it was still fairly early in the whole weblog thingie to have gotten involved. 1999 was the year that weblogging took off in it's current form with people like Anil Dash and Rebecca Blood getting rolling. Cruftbox sprung into webloggedness six months after them. I've written about my theory of weblog origins, which differs from the idea that someone invented the weblog. Blogger launched in August 1999 and suddenly you didn't need to understand things like CHMOD to have a weblog.

Looking back over the last six years, as you might imagine, I have enjoyed having this site. While I love my work, it does not offer me a great amount of creativity or chance to share what I do with many others. Cruftbox has been a way for me to put smiles on the faces of others. As the Dali Lama says, our purpose in life shoudl be to alleviate the suffering of others. If my weblog can even help a litlte in this manner, it's worth the effort.

Despite what I just wrote, I still stand by my thoughts on why people blog. Even after six years, getting comments and trackbacks make me happy.

Things I've learned about weblogging

People at work will find and read your weblog.
Your friends & family will find and read your weblog.
People you meet will google you and find and read your weblog.

That being true, leads to:

Cruftbox's First Law of Weblogging: Post only what you are OK with your co-workers, friends, family, and strangers knowing.

Consistently, the pages with the most hits are the following:

Loading Windows XP on a SATA drive
The Turduckhen
How to make a Smoker from a Trash Can
Images of GLAT - Google Labs Aptitude Test
Review of USB Coffee Cup Warmer
How TrackBack Works

In fact, the Loading Windows XP on a SATA drive page is the leading by far. Nothing else comes close. Who woulda thunk?

Cruftbox's Second Law of Weblogging: You will never know what will be a popular post on a weblog, so don't try to make posts you intend to be popular.

One thing that weblogs have proved is that a picture (or video) is worth a thousand words. Humans are visual creatures and seeing things is almost always better than reading things. Here's a simple post where the story is OK, but the image is what makes it a good post.

Pictures, images, and graphics really help get your point across. Simply using other people's images doesn't cut it. Original images and graphics are what people want to see.

Cruftbox's Third Law of Weblogging: Make your own images and photos for your weblog, because original visual content is what people crave most.

Lastly, I want to thank you, the Loyal Cruft Reader. Over the years I have made friends with many of you, enjoyed the comments and emails, and loved having an audience to share my fascination with junk food, science, video games, and technology with. Thank you for your support and continued reading.

Posted by michael at 09:59 PM | Comments (5)
January 23, 2007
Steve Jobs is a witch

Steve Jobs is a witch

Posted by michael at 08:04 PM | Comments (3)
January 22, 2007
Caddieclip, for the golfer who needs nothing

A college fraternity brother put his mechanical engineer skills to work and invented the Caddieclip. I bought a set and he sent me a bunch to test out. The Caddieclip is for golfers that like cigars or want to avoid putting their clubs on the ground.

Of course, I had to put the Caddieclip through Cruft Labs testing.

They come in five different colors. The purple one is a special version for charity.

Here is the putter suspended over the grass. For those that don't play golf, often early morning games find the fairways and greens wet and it can get the grips all wet when you walk up with a wedge and a putter.

Sure enough, the Caddieclip keeps the club up out of the grass.

Next, I lit up a cigar and gave that a test as well. I enjoy a cigar on the links now and again, and having a place to put your cigar is a real problem. Once again, thanks to American ingenuity, the problem is solved.

I found that rather than taking the cigar in and out, I simply could smoke by using the Caddieclip as a holder. Functional and stylish.

Posted by michael at 09:58 PM | Comments (3)
January 21, 2007
3 hours into 30 seconds timelapse

I've been playing around with timelapse photo software from Granite Bay Software. It's good stuff.

I step up in the living room and shot from around 5:30PM to 8:30PM. There is playing on the Wii, the DS, me reading, and all of us watching a movie...

Take a look.

Posted by michael at 11:12 AM | Comments (2)
January 18, 2007
Why CNN.com sucks

I check the news several times a day on the internet. In the past I have defaulted to CNN.com. They seemed to have good selection in lead stories and were never late with breaking news.

But now I'm looking for a new site to get my news from. Why? Here's why:

The written word is gettting trounced by internet net video.

On the list of 12 Top Stories, only 7 of them can be read, 5 of them are video only.

I want to read my news, not watch it on video. Not to mention the time it takes. After clicking on the link, the video window pops up and the video starts streaming, then the advertisement plays. It takes 30 seconds to get to the actual video news story. That's half a minute to wait for my link to complete, an eternity in web site design.

In 30 seconds, I could have probably read the entire news article if it was written, or after the first paragraph, decided I didn't want to finish the story. Also, when you watch the news, you cannot highlight text and Google search to learn more about things easily.

I cannot understand why CNN is pushing video so much over text. Maybe they make more on advertising. Maybe they think it's what people want.

So, I'm looking for a new news site to check. Any suggestions?

Posted by michael at 04:27 PM | Comments (9)
January 12, 2007
Heated coffee in a can

This morning I saw a can of Hillside Coffee in a self heating can. Of course, I had to give this a try. I'm a big fan of canned coffee, especially the iced Asian style.

I picked up the French Vanilla and Chai Tea flavors.

To heat the can is pretty simple. You simply pull the bottom cover off. The instructions say to wait until the pink dot turns white before drinking it. The pink dot is heat sensitive.

And punch down on that bubble with the greenish looking water in it. The bubble pops easily and the water flows out.

The simple reaction is water and quicklime. Quicklime is calcium oxide and the addition of water causes a exothermic (heat producing) reaction. The result is slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) which is a component of mortar in cement. Not exactly health food, but not deadly poison to be near your drink.

Sure enough, in a couple of minutes the coffee was hot and sure enough the pink dot was now white.

The heat of the can ws good, not boiling hot like you get a some places, but definitely a hot cup of coffee.

The flavor was good, but sweet. I was hoping for a little more coffee and a little less French Vanilla, but if you like those Starbucks frappa-latte-chinos with all that stuff tossed is, you'll like this.

Obviously I had to open the thing up to see how it worked.

This video shows how the pieces go together. The water and quicklime mix in the central cylinder, heated the coffee that surrounds it. Good thermal distribution method. I did get a few strange looks at the office as I walked around with what looked like a marital aid.

The size of the whole thing is decieving. While it looks like a pint sized cup of coffee, it actually only hold 9.5 ounces of coffee. A typical small cup of coffee is about 12 ounces.

Still, it's kinda fun and would make all the difference on a cold morning outdoors when there is no place to get hot coffee.

Posted by michael at 08:52 PM | Comments (6)
January 10, 2007
Why do you read pundits?

Yesterday was MacWorld, where Steve Jobs announced some great products. I've already ordered my Apple TV and will likely give the iPhone a serious consideration. I like many things about Apple, but some things still baffle me about the Apple fanatics.

What I found hilarious was the Apple Punditry and their predictions and reactions to the Keynote. In an IRC channel I was in during the Keynote, someone typed 'Applegasm' to reflect their feelings.

Why does Apple create such zealotry? I have no idea. But I find it hilarious.

Take the case of Daring Fireball, written by John Gruber, who as far as I can tell, has a career writing down his thoughts about Apple. I've never met John, but I'm sure he's a nice guy that I would enjoy having a beer with (so if you read this John, I owe you a beer, or maybe a whole six pack). He's regarded as a leading Apple Pundit by the blogsphere.

Let's look at his predictions for Macworld Expo 2007:

New User Interface Theme to Replace Aqua in 10.5 (wrong)
iPod Mobile Phone (correct)
New MacBook Pro Form Factor (wrong)
New Sub-Compact MacBook (wrong)
iTV, Along With Apple-Branded Flat Screen TVs With iTV Built-In (½ right, Apple TV yes, flatscreens no)
Dual Quad-Core Mac Pros (wrong)
Demo of Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta (wrong)
Roz Ho From Microsoft’s Mac BU - universal binary versions of the Office (wrong)
’07 Updates to the iWork and iLife suites. (wrong)
Higher-Speed AirPort Based on 802.11n (½ right, launched, but not in keynote)

So, out of 10 predictions, 1 fully right, 2 about ½ right. Batting .200 there John. Not enough for the big leagues. And he's considered one of the top Apple pundits.

Again, nothing against John, but the web punditry and second guessing of every move by tech companies is a bit silly. Not only do the web pundits make silly predictions, they find reason to try to tear apart every new tech announcement with smug certainty.

Zune didn't kill the iPod in 3 months? No 1080p on the Apple TV? Product is not open-firmware, open-source, and under $20? OMGWTFBBQ!

My professional life has been one long study in what technology can and can't do. I have found that focusing on what hardware and software can't do is basically useless. Focusing on what can actually be done and works is the only real way to examine technology.

Too often I hear smart people say things like "I won't buy X because it doesn't have [vaporware stage technology]", instead of looking at working features and how they fit the actual needs. Kinda of like refusing to buy a car because it doesn't fly and you 'really want a flying car' even though no flying cars exist. Don't get me started on the silliness of people buying 1080p TVs under 60"...

My only guess is that web punditry is a form of tech porn that some people enjoy. Based on nothing, their opinions seem to be worth about the same.

Posted by michael at 07:44 PM | Comments (4)
January 08, 2007
Wikipedia Meme

By the command of my Austin friend, Tara Hacker:

1. Go to Wikipedia.
2. In the Search box, type your birth month and day (but not year).
3. List three events that happened on your birthday.
4. List two important birthdays and one interesting death.
5. List any holidays
6. Post it.

July 28 - Three Events

1914 - World War I begins
1945 - A US Army B-25 bomber accidentally crashes into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building
2002 - Nine coal miners trapped in the flooded Quecreek Mine in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, were rescued after 77 hours underground.

July 28 - Two Births, One Death

1929 - (b) Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, First Lady of the United States
1954 - (b) Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela
1750 - (d) Johann Sebastian Bach

July 28 - Holidays

Canada - Commemoration of the deportation of the Acadians
San Marino - Fall of the Fascist Government

Now go my Loyal Cruft Readers and spread the meme.

Posted by michael at 10:45 AM | Comments (7)
January 03, 2007
Blogrolling.com is dead

well, at least it's pining for the fjords.

Blogrolling.com was an early service that I loved. Started by Jason Defillipo, blogrolling was a great way to keep up to date on various weblogs. Before people tended to use RSS readers, they used blogrolls to tracjk who had updated their blogs. Jason's site was a service that allowed you to add weblogs to your blogrolls and display it on your own weblog.

In February 2004, Jason sold the site to Tucows. Ross Rader promised to make things even better.

Well, nothing really happened until this summer when out of the blue, blogrolling.com became free.

Soon afterwards was service outages, forums full of unhappy users and endless spam posts. Blogrolling just sorta stopped working. I emailed Ross and got no response. So far there has been no word from Tucows/Blogrolling about the future of the service.

I spoke briefly to Jason and he confirmed that blogrolling was basically being euthanized. Currently the blogrolls appear, but they don't really update, making them knida useless. It's really too bad. Blogrolling's a good idea that is gone before it's time.

I guess it should make me (and you) wonder about all the neat services out there that you enjoy and what would happen if they went away. Imagine a Flickr that didn't allow new photos, you couldn't connect to AIM, or a Blogger that didn't accept new entries. This whole 'free' thing on the internet does have it's downside.

Update: Ross Rader has posted a comment about blogrolling's not so bleak future. Yea!

Posted by michael at 10:30 PM | Comments (4)
Neat USB Devices

Over the holidays I picked up two neat USB gadgets.

First was the USB Pencil Sharpener from Cyberguys. It does a great job and is perfect for a pencil lover like me. The LED lights are a bonus.

The second was given to me by my co-worker, Edrolfo. It's a USB Cylon Snowman from Thinkgeek. My daughters like to use it as a nightlight.

To better show you how great they are, here's a little video.

Posted by michael at 12:33 AM | Comments (2)
January 02, 2007
On Notice

The following are on notice for 2007

Posted by michael at 06:14 PM | Comments (2)
New Year

The new year is underway and I hope you all make the most of it.

I finished up 2006 with a few fun things.

On Saturday, Zoe and I went to play some Dungeons & Dragons at a neighbor's house. I had forgotten how long it can take to get though even a few encounters.

Zoe had a good time and I think it may become a regular activity to keep the campaign moving along. We only got through making characters and two fights before having to call it quits for the day.

Why did we quit? Well, we had to go work on the South Pasadena Rose Parade Float. South Pas is one of the only communities that still builds thier own float with volunteer effort.

From lunch to dinner, we helped "pick", meaning sitting at tables preparing the flowers to be glued and stuck onto the float. Endless bundles of carnations and roses passed through our hands.

Another whole crew was dedicated to the work on the float. Next year we're likely to spend even more time helping.

Posted by michael at 12:12 AM | Comments (3)