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Blog Archives for March 2008

Free Online Photoshop

Friday, March 28th, 2008 - Comments (0) in Computers, Life, Nerd Stuff

Photoshop Express

This morning I read that Adobe finally released their free web-based express version of Photoshop. I signed up to see how it works and what it's about, and from what I initially saw I wasn't that impressed. When you sign up they give you 2 gigabytes of space to host your pictures and give you a means of doing some basic editing however I have a bit of a problem with both of these things.

I don't really like the idea of hosting images with Adobe. There are already about 10,002 sites for hosting your images; we need another one like a hole in the head. Other than just adding another image hosting site to the mix, there is one point in the terms of use for Photoshop Express that doesn't sit well with me:

8.a Use of Your Content.

Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, with respect to Your Content that you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Services, you grant Adobe a worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.

I've highlighted the rather unsavory part. Basically any image you upload or edit belongs to Adobe and they can do whatever they want with it. They can use it in an ad campaign, modify it and use it on their website or the worst of all, license it to third party companies for as much money (that you'll never see) and for as long as they want. Imagine Adobe has a print ad subsidiary and they use your face from a picture you uploaded to their service in an ad for some new herpes drug: "Now with new CrotchIce I can be outbreak free for months at a time!" How much would that suck?

My other beef with this system is simply the fact that it's all done in Flash. Don't get me wrong, Flash has its uses, but making entire websites out of it shouldn't be one of them. It's great for ads, little games, streaming video (Youtube), but nothing is more annoying than a rather complex website made entirely of Flash. You can't highlight anything on it, you can't search it, you can't right click on links to open in different tabs or windows, you can't adjust the font size or use any accessibility options built into Windows and most importantly it breaks the "back" button in the browser; you're forced to used it exactly how the developers think it should be, which doesn't always work well for everyone.

Thanks for offering this free service to host and edit my pictures Adobe, but I think I'll stick with other free programs like Gimp.

He Can Make Me Thin

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 - Comments (6) in Life, TV

Paul McKennaThere is this show on TLC about a guy that gives the "secrets" to losing weight. His name is Paul McKenna and he's one of those self-help guys with a mini-series called I Can Make You Thin.

I've actually seen the first two episodes so far and it's I have to admit it takes a different approach to weight loss. The first show basically revealed the 4 golden rules, some being obvious and some not:

  1. When you're (physically) hungry, eat.
  2. Eat what you want, not what you think you should have.
  3. Eat slowly, consciously and without distraction; enjoy every bite
  4. The second you think you're full, stop.

The first rule is pretty obvious, but he's talking about physical hunger which comes on slowly and not fast-emerging emotional hunger. If you starve yourself all day you'll end up gorging yourself and eat way more than necessary. The second one was kind of surprising; eating what you want avoids cravings. If you want something that you don't eat because it's unhealthy, you end up craving it more. As for number three, he said you should slow way down and eat at a quarter of your normal speed. Take a bite, put your fork or spoon down and chew 20+ times. Don't eat while watching TV or reading because you need to really concentrate to tell when you first get full. The forth rule is also pretty obvious, stop when you're no longer hungry. I guess the trick is knowing when you're full.

The second episode dealt with emotional eating. Basically people don't like how they feel and try to change the feeling by eating. He did this charade with people to changing how they feel so they don't use food. It apparently uses acupressure points on the body to "rewire" your brain. Here's the order of operations:

  1. Tap your cheekbone below your eye a few times
  2. then tap your collar bone on the same side
  3. go back to tapping below your eye
  4. tap the bottom of your hand below your pinky knuckle
  5. tap the back of your hand
  6. while continuing to tap:
    1. close your eyes
    2. open your eyes and look down and to the right
    3. look down and to the left
    4. move your eyes in a clockwise circle
    5. do a counter-clockwise circle with your eyes
    6. hum any tune for a couple of seconds out loud
    7. count from one to five out loud
    8. hum another tune
  7. go back to tapping under your eye
  8. back to the collar bone
  9. back to the eye

Through out this modified hokey-pokey, you're supposed to be concentrating on your craving or your bad feeling and after it should be dramatically reduced. Since you change how you're feeling through external means, you don't need to eat something to make yourself feel better. I wonder how many people do this dance when they walk past the pretzel shop in the mall...

Speeding up Blackberry Internet Service

Thursday, March 20th, 2008 - Comments (0) in Email, Life, Nerd Stuff

BlackberryLast fall I was able to get a Blackberry for work. Since I have to maintain a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) for our email system it only made sense that I have one too (in my mind anyway).

The BES really only works with Harley email addresses, but it works really well. All Outlook data (email, calendar, contact, note, task items) flows between the desktops and the handhelds instantaneously. New email often arrives on my Blackberry quicker than in Outlook open on my desktop.

The problem I was having was related to Blackberry's Internet Service (BIS). The name is a little deceiving, BIS is actually the product that handles external email synchronization with the handhelds. I have a home email account (my name at this domain) and I wanted to be able to send/receive email for that address on my Blackberry. They have a website all setup for you to do this which was working fine, but it took upwards of 20 minutes to receive email sent to that address.  It basically boiled down to the BIS servers only going and checking for new mail every 15-20 minutes. I looked around online to see if there was a setting you could change to shorten that time and even called Sprint's customer care to talk to somebody (completely useless) about it.

I figured out the only way to get BIS to function as instantaneous as possible was to alert them when new mail arrived and the only way they could know that is if the mail goes to them. When you sign up for BIS you can add your own email addresses and specify the server, username and password needed to fetch the mail. You can also create a new whatever@sprint.blackberry.net address that is linked directly to your handheld. Emails sent to those addresses basically get routed directly to the devices so they show up very quickly. The answer was to create a blackberry.net email address and forward a copy of all my incoming mail to that address. This way the mail still lands in my inbox and BIS gets notified of new email rather than periodically checking for new mail. You can also set the name and from address on the BIS account so mail sent from my Blackberry will look like it came from my personal email account, not the Blackberry one.

Lego Fruit Snacks!

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 - Comments (9) in Legos, Life

Last night we went to Wegmans to shop for food for the week, and a display caught my attention back by the milk: fruit snacks shaped like Legos!!! How cool is that? Of course I had to get a box and see if they were as cool in person as they were on the box.

I was a little annoyed by the fact that they didn't have dimples in the bottom to actually connect them together, but since they didn't last very long outside of my mouth, that wasn't a big deal. It would also be cool to have different shapes, not just the 2x2s but maybe the 2x4s or something.

Lego Fruit Snacks 1Lego Fruit Snacks 2

I don't often play with my food, but there's always an exception to the rule!

No Country for Horton's Whos

Sunday, March 16th, 2008 - Comments (1) in Life, Movies

Friday night Rachelle and I finally got around to watching No Country for Old Men. I heard this was an awesome movie and since it won a few Oscars I expected it to be pretty good. Unfortunately it wasn't. It was rather boring and seemed to drag on and on. Javier Bardem was an awesome badguy; his accent and tone of voice were great and his haircut still sends shivers up my spine, but he couldn't save the rest of the movie for me.

NCFOM

We don't often go out to movie theaters anymore simply because they're all ridiculously expensive. Matinee tickets at the Eastview Regal are $7 currently, and don't even get me started on the cost of candy. We had a gift card though, so we went to see Horton Hears a Who! this afternoon. I really liked this movie. It was really funny, both with adult and kid humor. I love all Jim Carrey movies (and most Steve Carell movies) and this one didn't disappoint.

Horton

The guy on the corner

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 - Comments (0) in Life

Dear weird guy on the corner in town,

I've missed you. You used to hang out on the corner, bible in hand, shouting something (probably scripture) as loud as you can at the passing traffic all the time, and I saw you today for the first time in a long time. I assume you pick rush hours to be out there because there are more people out and about at that time. I've always wanted to stop and ask you about your mission but I'm usually way too tired by the end of the day to stop, and I think Rachelle would kill me if I stopped to chat while on a walk or bike ride. What exactly are you doing on your corner? Are you trying to enlighten all the misguided souls in Fairport and steer them away from eternal damnation? Are you trying to recruit members of the Baptist church on other corner? Are you touched in the head? Where have you been all winter? What are all the other screaming beard-donning corner-standing bible-toting enthusiasts going to say when they find out you only come out in nice weather? I'm just curious...

Love,
Joe

Live free or...just die already!

Sunday, March 9th, 2008 - Comments (4) in Life, Movies, Nerd Stuff

Recently we got Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth film in the Die Hard franchise, from Netflix. I heard from a bunch of people that it was a kick-ass movie and definitely a must see for anyone who likes action films.

Saying LFoDH as an action movie is a bit of an understatement. It just seemed a little too far fetched for McClane to survive what he did in this movie. He was shot at about 450,000 times, inside an apartment that explodes, attacked by an F-35 Lightning II jet, drives an SUV down an elevator shaft, jumps out of police car going probable 70+ MPH, escaped an exploding power station and quite a few other hazards. Sure he was pretty banged up by the end of the movie, but the fact that he survived was a little ridiculous.

The other thing that annoyed me was the "scorned nerd using his l337 skills to take over the world" angle they used. No matter how awesome your hacking skills are, you simply cannot disrupt every essential service and utility. They're all run by separate private companies who use proprietary software mostly over private networks, not the public internet.