January 31, 2008
What I've been doing instead of blogging

I've been helping with science projects...

Posted by michael at 11:02 PM
January 21, 2008
iNet Beta

I like to read. I find myself reading everything, including much to my wife's dismay, paper on the ground. She routinely chastises me for reading things on the ground.

But a few weeks ago, my keen eye spied a treasure trove on the ground. On the way into the local Target store, I saw bunch of index cards scattered on the ground. Michele saw me see the cards and said, "Don't even think about it." I told her, "If they're there on our way out, I'm grabbing them." Sure enough, after our shopping, the cards were still there and I grabbed them.

They are a bit dirty and stepped upon, but they are better than I could have hoped for. What I picked up appears to be a labor of love by a child about something called iNet Beta.

There were three types of cards, with several copies of each.

One type of card appeared to represent an electronic device of some sort, the iBadge. Note the merging of iPod style control with joypad style controls. I especially like what appears to be an infrared port on the back. There were three of these cards, identical.

Next is the member badge. I assume that large box is for a photo and the lines below it represent a barcode. There were two of these cards, identical.

These cards were two index cards taped together. Looking at the outside, I think this card is called the iPass. I think it is the iPass into iNet Beta. There were three of these cards, identical, expect for the member number.

Note the member number in pencil. Of the three cards, I have numbers 6380001, 6380002, and 6380003. I like the use of icons and that the replication of design on all three versions was good. Why do they start at 6380001? What is the significance?

The best of all was the inside of the iPass. I have so many questions for the creator. What is a GMC number? What are the differences between the currencies of Luccii, i-Tokens, and Net-Cash? How is Basic Info different than Data Info?

On the design aspect, I love the gender icons, and the icons to represent the new currencies. I like that there is even a new character to represent the currencies similar to , $, , and . Brilliant stuff.

Note the concept of Level and HP (hit points) on the card, denoting a game that includes both combat and economics. Clearly the creator has been exposed to newer styles of gaming.

I'm not sure how the cards came to be on the ground in front of Target. I hope it was an accident and not from a bad situation. I dearly wish to return the cards to their creator if possible. If you are the creator, please contact me, I will send them to you.

Posted by michael at 11:50 AM | Comments (4)
January 20, 2008
Importing Photos in Vista

This post is for Vista users that might have run into the same problem.

I've been transitioning Michele from a homebuilt XP system to a iMac running Vista. Everything had been going along smoothly until I tried to import some photos. We've always used her computer as the import station for all our digital cameras. The photos are backed up on several other computers.

The issue is that the default Vista camera import method sucks, mainly because you can't select which photos you want imported and where to put them. It's an all or nothing arrangement. This may be great for for 90% of users, but many of us want to be a bit more selective about how we import and place our photos.

In XP, we had the Scanner and Camera Wizard, which was pretty damn good. I used it for years with no problem. Seemed simple enough to me.

The Vista team must have disagreed and made the new import system basically into a on-click, no options process. As a result, many people feel that the default Vista Import method is inferior to the XP import method.

The last couple days, I have done a bunch of research on alternatives. In the end, I found that Windows Live Photo Gallery is the solution. I'm not sure why it doesn't come with Vista, but it's a free download.

Importing with Windows Live Photo Gallery gives you back all the features of the XP Camera Wizard. It gives you the option to import everything or select individual photos or even groups of photos to import into specified folders and rename as you desire. There's even an Autoplay option to always use it when you connect a camera.

I'm quite happy now with the solution and Michele is ready to move to her new computer full time.

Posted by michael at 12:20 AM | Comments (3)
January 06, 2008
A year in Hotel Rooms

I travel a lot and end up in a lot of hotel rooms. In 2007, I stayed in 16 different hotel rooms. That doesn't include 2 vacations where I didn't stay in hotels.

In 2006, I started making short videos of my hotel rooms to show to Michele and the girls. I've been posting them to my Vox account. Now that 2007 is over, I can present you with:

My Hotel Rooms of 2007

January 15th - San Jose, California
January 16th - Emeryville, California
February 6th - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
February 9th - Bellevue, Washington
February 24th - Las Vegas, Nevada
March 17th - Austin, Texas
March 27th - London, England
April 18th - Las Vegas, Nevada
May 14th - Cupertino, California
May 27th - San Francisco, California
July 1st - Long Beach, California
July 17th - London, England
August 24th - Seattle, Washington
October 10th - New York, New York
October 18th - San Francisco, California
December 5th - San Jose, California

Vox makes it very easy to upload videos when I'm in the road. They recently added the ability to embed Vox videos on other sites. Even if you already have a weblog, having a Vox blog is fun and useful.

As an example of the videos I made, here's the one from Long Beach, when my daughters and I attended the Anime Expo.

My Hotel Room in Long Beach from http://cruftbox.vox.com/
Posted by michael at 06:12 PM | Comments (3)
January 03, 2008
Why CDs are still better than downloads

This is the third time I've bought an album from Amazon and the third time that the downloader has crashed. When this happens I have to send an email to Amazon to get them to unlock the album and allow me to redownload it. A huge pain the butt. With iTunes full of DRM & wacky AAC files, Yahoo Music & Napster with DRM & wacky WMA files, it simply doesn't make sense to buy music digitally.

A CD still makes the best sense for music. You can play it in a CD player and you can rip it to MP3 (even if you lose the files).

You can try to tell me I'm wrong, but you know in your heart I'm right.

Posted by michael at 07:40 AM | Comments (15)
January 01, 2008
Good things in 2007

Now that it 2008, it's time to discuss a few things about 2007. You start seeing stories about 2007 just after Thanksgiving, when the year isn't done yet. Seems strange to me.

So Happy New Year to you, Loyal Cruft Reader, here are my thoughts.

The Good Fairies of New York - Martin Millar - This was my most enjoyable read of the year. Not a new book, but a great one. My review explains.

Glasshouse - Charles Stross - Stross's previous work have been excellent and Glasshouse was fantastic as well.

Sun of Suns: Book One of Virga - Karl Schroeder - Space Opera meets Niven's Smoke Ring in a new series. This is the first book. I eagerly await the third one to be published.


Bioshock - A fantastic single player game. The first game in years without multiplayer that I've loved. Great story, music, game play, and astounding graphics. Perfection.

Portal & Team Fortress 2 from the Orange Box - Who cares about Half-life anymore? Portal is a truly innovative game that uses sharp writing and design to elicit various emotions. Team Fortress 2 tosses the notions of realism out the door and gives us a cartoon world of team based mayhem.


Dan in Real Life - I'm not sure why this film struck a cord with me. Perhaps as a father of daughters, I can relate. In any case, a well written and well acted film about people dealing with love & loss.

3:10 to Yuma - A classic western that looks at the motivation behind men's action. Fantastic acting and better writing.

Sunshine - A good attempt at hardcore science fiction. The last 20 minutes devolve into a horror film, disappointing me a bit, but worth seeing anyways.

Web Sites

Woot.com - I'm now firmly addicted to Woot, patiently waiting until 10PM when the new items appear.

Ask Metafilter - Not a new site. I've been a member at Metafilter since 2002, but recently I've enjoyed reading & answering people's questions in a sane, controlled environment.


The iPhone - Simply the best mobile phone available. Fanbois can try to deny it, but the iPhone completely changes the face of the cellular phone industry. Strangers don't want to look at your Voyager or Blackberry, but they sure as hell want to look at your iPhone.

Humanscale Foot Machines - Michele bought me a FM500 for my desk at home to put my feet on when sitting. I highly recommend getting one. With the amount of time I spend at the computer, proper posture is essential.

Posted by michael at 03:37 PM | Comments (3)