Sunday, April 30, 2006

Phone as high-speed modem

Remember that new phone I got recently? Well, today I got it running as a high-speed modem for my Tablet. No longer do I have to search for a hotspot to connect.

If I've got cell signal, I've got Internet.


Ouch! I Ache!

Erin warned me yesterday afternoon.

"You'll ache tomorrow," she said.

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"Because scraping old paint off of ceilings and painting overhead uses a lot of muscles that aren't used often, except when working out of course....."

She was right. I ache. I slept a lot of today away. I took a long soak in the tub with really hot water. Had dinner with Mom. I feel better. Just a little.

I'll be fine tomorrow, really.....

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Another reason to get the Republicans outta the Congress

NO to net neutrality!? What in the world are they thinking? (Well, obviously, nothing.)

Can you tell I'm snippy, having just awoken from my nap?

Today's Home Renovation

What a busy day. I just woke up from a nap. We worked on the Veteran's home for most of the day. It was a lot of work and I was tired. Here are some snaps:

Friday, April 28, 2006

Google Sketchup

Google has released Google Sketchup, the first Google version of the 3D modeling software they acquired recently, and it's absolutely free. (They'll make money, I'm sure, from the Pro version that they also offer for $495.)

RFID tags used to teach languages

Here's a very interesting way to teach languages to kids (and could be very useful to adults as well)!

Plantronics Headset

So I got the Plantronics headset. It's great!

Being very small, it has a holster that it fits into, which fits into my shirt pocket with a clip (and sits right next to my pen in my pocket). Even better, it vibrates when a call comes in, and when I pull it out of the holster, it answers the phone! YOWSER! To hang up, I put it back into the holster! SUPERB!

Unlike the Motorola, it doesn't turn off when charging, so it's always on and available. Plus I don't have that dorky Motorola bulge in my pants pocket where I would carry it (that was so that I didn't look like a goofball walking around with it on my ear all the time).....

Highly recommended!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Meetings to Plan Meetings

So I was having withdrawal because I spent the whole morning preparing for a meeting and then attending the meeting, wherein we talked about our current projects and planned our strategy to have more meetings. Fun!

We were scrambling yesterday because we had tried for a week or so to find two sign language interpreters for one of our colleagues. We finally found two (Anne and Jayne), and they both came today to the meeting, but Anne had to leave early. Now, my interpreting sign is ok (a lowercase ok, not an uppercase, gee-whiz-my-sign-language-is-great OK!!), and Anne left about an hour before the meeting ended, meaning I had to pick up the slack.

I don't mind supporting my colleagues, you see, but I was following the pros. As Jayne and I switched off, I think she felt pity for me trying to keep up with all the technical computer jargon because she would rest for about 10 minutes (seemed like an eternity to me) and then switch with me for about 20 minutes. Finally she had to leave, so I was left to my own for about 30 minutes. Whew! But I learned a lot of different computer technology signs, so it was a good time.....

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Orb Orb Orb

Went to and downloaded Orb to the PC where I use Napster, and store all my music and pictures/video. Added the three folders (one for Napter's subscription DRM'd music, another for my purchased music, and the pictures/video folder). In the office, I can get to all the content from my desktop via Netscape without installing anything here. I can do the same with my XV6700 cellphone by browsing to the same website. SCHWEET!!

But with XM Radio on the cellie, I probably don't need more music available ..... wait, yes I do!

Women-Only Subway Cars

Here's a news story to take note of. Seems Rio de Janeiro joins Tokyo and Mexico City to provide a safe place for women from harassment. Don't hear much about that problem in DC, but our trains aren't quite as crowded as in other cities.....

There's an ongoing discussion about the icons used in the meebo interface. I agree with the posters who say that use and availability of this excellent product is more important than the visual (the "prettiness," if you will). Meebo's focus is dead on: fast and efficient text messaging among many different IM products. On the other hand, I disagree with those who say that Meebo should allow downloads / webcams / superfluous activities - that would prevent it from being usable in more security-conscious offices and companies. If meebo supported downloads, I'm afraid quite a few people who use it now would be unable to continue, and that'd be a shame.....

Be sure to check out sometime. It's free, web-based, and very fast. (Oh, and I have no interest or stake in that product, other than we use it in the office every day. It's great for communicating and leaving messages with colleagues, and especially for communicating with Deaf folk.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gee: Wonder what THEY're listening to?

Helping the Armed Forces

Our company is going to help the organization Serving Those Who Serve this weekend. We've been assigned a home of an injured service member and his family. Our mission is to help renovate to allow handicapped accessibility. We'll be painting, cleaning, installing stuff (though I won't be helping with that - as clumsy as I am with hardware, I'd just make the situation worse. ) I just sent an e-mail to volunteer for painting and clean up detail. I'll post pictures if we have time to take any.

Lucy Liu - Still Stunning After All These Years

Just read in the Washington Post that Lucy Liu is 37 years old. Can't be. Seems she's hooking up with Jackie Chan to do a movie, and she'll be his granddaughter. She can pull it off too.....

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Near Future Is Here!

There's a new serial novel I've been reading, The Unbinding, by award-winning novelist Walter Kirn, on Slate's website. Installments of the novel have appeared roughly twice a week since March (and I think it continues through June). Previous installments are available to catch up, so I was able to get caught up this past weekend. It uses Macromedia Flash, so you'll need that installed, you need to be connected to the Internet to get new content so it's not for reading on the go. Highly recommended!

Marriage Quote from Dennis Miller

Never ever discount the idea of marriage. Sure, someone might tell you that marriage is just a piece of paper. Well, so is money, and what's more life-affirming than cold, hard cash?

So true, so true.....

Bluetooth Headsets

So, I've dropped mine like 827 times, and it still works. It's very light, so doesn't pick up a lot of momentum as it's falling from my highly stable and secure grasp. (My new phone, by the way, survived a tumble down the stairs the other day - good thing there's a lot of rubber-type padding cover on it!! PLUS I got the insurance for good measure!)

Anyway, I was looking at the state-of-the-art for headsets, and found a couple I like, one from Plantronics and one from Nextlink.

It'll probably be the first one based on what I've read on the web.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Flash Memory Store

Take a look at They have lots of memory. I ordered a 2G mini-SD card from them (a card which I haven't been able to find in *any* local bricks and mortar store) for my new XV6700 phone. I ordered the second-day delivery to my office, so it should be here on Tuesday or Wednesday! I'm gonna load it up with Napster music!!

May 1, 2006: Don't bother. It's been almost two weeks. I can't get anyone to respond to my inquiries about where's my order. There was some issue with charging my credit card, but they're hiding from me for some reason. I went ahead and ordered from, and it'll be arriving in a couple of days. THEY didn't seem to have a problem with my card.....

Vanessa's Birthday

Vanessa (not my neighbor Vanessa, but Shawn's and Cai's Vanessa) had her birthday party today at Bambule, across from Mazza Gallerie in Upper Northwest Washington, D.C.

Great buffet! Great conversation! Lots of laughs! Met a few new people, one from California, who was surprised and mentioned how raucous we are when together. And that Marcus - he's just off-the-hook!

Everyone looked great as always! Can't wait for the next wildness.....

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Phone

Well, I guess I dropped the BBerry too many times because now it won't tell me there's an incoming call. I get voicemails, but I never get the notice to let me know someone's calling.

I stopped by Verizon's website to see what they have, and found the XV6700 Pocket PC phone. It's got PDA/ e-mail/ slideout keyboard/ txtmsging/ XMradio/ camera/ camcorder/ Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth/ EVDO/ PDQXYZ/ and, oh yeah, cell phone. I did some on-line research, found lots of positive reviews, and picked it up last night. VERY nice!

Don't have a clue yet what the e-mail address is, but it comes with manuals (yes more than one, CD-wise). Guess I'll just fumble around with it like a good techie should until I have a $5,284 cell phone bill or I figure it out (hopefully the latter comes first).

It works with my Bluetooth headphone, it works with my home wireless network (so it will also work with hotspots around town), and it works with Verizon's high-speed network when a hotspot isn't available. There was an issue with getting the wireless network radio and the telephone radio to work at the same time, but a simple registry change fixed that! (Why it's disabled by Verizon I can't figure.)

I downloaded a piece of software from Handango that allows me to stream my XM radio stations to the phone. I haven't played with it yet (I'll do that this weekend). Can hardly wait!!

An Friend from Back in the Day - Dead

Percy Robinson, 43

Percy N. Robinson died March 8, 2006 in Virginia’s Inova Fairfax Hospital as a result of kidney failure, according to his friend and former partner Jerry Marshall. He was 43.

Robinson, known as "Robbie" to his friends, was born June 20, 1962 in Clinton, Md., to Margaret and Percy Robinson, both of whom died when Robbie was a young boy. He grew up in the area, graduating from Clinton’s Surattsville High School. He completed his education at Salisbury Stage College in Salisbury, Md.

As an adult, Robinson lived and worked in Alexandria, Va., as call center manager at the Alexandria branch of the Pension Benefits Guarantee Corporation.

In his spare time, Robinson enjoyed collecting interesting bowls and serving platters that he would use for informal dinner parties for his friends. Although he hated flying, he loved to travel. With an avid interest in photography, Robinson collected images from the Netherlands, Great Britain, France and many other locations in Western Europe. After his death, his friends found more than 9,000 photographs of friends, family and his voyages in his apartment. When not traveling or taking pictures, arguing a point was Robinson’s favorite pastime.

"Friends say he should have been an attorney," Marshall said. "He had lots of longtime friends. Most of the friends he had, he had for 20 or more years."

Robinson is survived by his brothers, William Hill of Teaneck, N.J., Romero Crusor of Cheverly, Md., and John Robinson of Leesburg, Va.; his sister, Gail Queen of Clinton, Md.; several nieces and nephews; and many good friends.

He was buried in his family plot in Chicago, Ill., on Friday, March 17, 2006.

Instead of flowers, please send donations to Food & Friends, 219 Riggs Road, NE, Washington, D.C. 20011, or

Terrible. I lost track of him when he started travelling. He was only a year or so younger than me. Makes me stop and think.....

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Archos AV4100 Player and Plays for Sure

I've had one of these for awhile and they're great for music and video on the go. I called tech support today to see if they're going to create a firmware update that would add Plays for Sure (to hook into the subscription services). The tech said there were no plans for it, but I asked him to send a request to the engineering folks. He said he would, and if they collected enough requests, it would be researched. IF YOU OWN one of the AV4XXX series, be sure to call them at 1-877-300-8879 and let them know to update the firmware! The AV5 series already supports Plays for Sure but it's too expensive so I can't get that one.....

Hectic Today

It's been kinda hectic today with all my projects and some new ones getting added. I keep giving my Intern, Calvin (I call him my Intern, but he really belongs to the Government, but he's assigned to me), stuff to do, and he gets it done pretty quick. Doesn't need lots of attention or hand-holding (which is good since I'm a very hands-off type of manager).....

Monday, April 17, 2006

Funny Blackberry Tag Line

Our office has a standard tag line that's appeneded to all outgoing BBerry messages. One customer changed his to:

Sent from my Boysenberry Wireless Handheld.

Of course, that made me think of my favorite IHOP pancake syrup...

Civic on the Road

Today I saw one of those new Civic hybrids. Nice! Good shape!

Bells and Whistles

Saw this on a forum where people were discussing how cars, computers, TVs have lots of options these days, and how is the regular non-technical person supposed to keep up. Someone answered that they should read the user's manual; someone else responded with this comment:

If you are going to buy a device that has all the bells and whistles, don't be surprised when it starts whistling.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Interesting Brunch Sandwich at Plato's

Went to Plato's in College Park for dinner with mom. Great college place. Open 24 hours in case I get that late night craving for something I don't have in the fridge.

Saw this sandwich on the menu: Grilled Egg Royale. It's fried eggs, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing, grilled rye bread

Gonna try this soon!!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Benjamin Franklin Says....

"A good conscience is a continual Christmas."
I just LOVE Christmas!!

Mercedes Radar Auto (non)-Brake System?

If you want to see an amusing tech product demo, you should see Mercedes radar guided automatic braking system. They demoed it to journalists from BBC's Top Gear on a foggy day. The car ran on down the road towards a large object, completely failed to see it until far too late, and smashed into the side! Can't find the video anymore, though.....maybe they're too embarrassed!

Google Calendar

Just started checking out the Google Calendar (, natch). Looks pretty slick. Integrates with Gmail using your already existing account. Can send invites to people, and they can see parts of your calendar that you want, even if they don't have a Gmail account. Just what I've been waiting for.....

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Martin Solveig, Kings of Tomorrow, Petalpusher!!

Napster has it! Rocking Music is a REALLY great EP.

And Kings of Tomorrow and Petalpusher. <happy sigh>

Quick check . . . Nope, Rhapsody says they're still trying to get permissions.


<uninstall> Rhapsody </uninstall>

Great product, been using it for a few weeks now. It's free for now, and in alpha testing (but it seems to be an extremely stable alpha). It stays under our Security Team's radar for IM products because it's totally web-based, doesn't download applets, doesn't allow file transfers. (I told them about it upfront, that we were going to test, so no surprises there!) The v5 in the URL seems to get better response in our environment - read about it on the forums.

Meebo makes it easy to communicate with my deaf co-worker and friends (both deaf and hearing). We're also using it internally as a message board, so if someone's away from the desk but logged in, I can leave a message. Great timesaver, and messages don't get lost in the ever-present flood of e-mail.....

Use Renu with MoistureLoc?

Seems there have been reports of infections when using it. I'm stopping today until they figure it out!

(Source: Washington Post)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

BusinessWeek Edits, Sensitively

Yep. BusinessWeek edited me. Not too bad (they took off that last bit about the blowjob and the call to arms), but I'm glad I saved my rant (April 9).

Making Us Happy with a (Recycled) Joke

The President, First Lady and Dick Cheney were flying on Air Force One. George looked at Laura, chuckled and said, "You know, I could throw a $1,000 bill out of the window right now and make somebody very happy."

Laura shrugged her shoulders and replied, "I could throw ten $100 bills out of the window and make ten people very happy."

Cheney added, "That being the case, I could throw one hundred $10 bills out of the window and make a hundred people very happy."

Hearing their exchange, the pilot rolled his eyes and said to his co-pilot,  "Such big-shots back there. Hell, I could throw all of them out of the window and make 256 million people very happy!"

Stretch Cooper? For Real?

It's a stretch Cooper sighted at Cannes.

(Source: MSN)

Spotted: A Solstice, But Where Is the Sun?

Pontiac's new Solstice is nice from the front but what happened to the back? Did they run out of ideas?

I'm really waiting to see the Sun (from the Saturn Division) - a much better back shape (in the brochures at least).

The roofs of both of these fold into the trunk (leaving TWO cubic feet of space). If it's anything like the Benz coupe that does this, there will only be enough room for a handbag, no serious luggage for a weekend getaway. Too bad.....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Is there no end to the spying?!?

Who will be next?

The Defense Department has released some documents describing domestic spying on student protests against U.S. military recruitment on campuses in New York and California. The documents came in partial response to several Freedom of Information Act requests lodged by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which seeks to end the military's ban on gay personnel.

(Source: PlanetOut)

U.S. Drawing Down Troops from Iraq?

I hope so. That means my military buds will finally come home:

The WSJ goes Page One with "clear signs" the U.S. is "gearing up plans" to draw down troops in Iraq. U.S. forces are already pulling out of some cities and moving into supersized compounds, well-removed from, well, basically Iraq. About 30 smaller bases have been closed or turned over to local forces.

(From Slate Magazine)

Heard of Layo and Bushwacka?

I hadn't. But their latest, called Feels Closer, was one the Napster recommendations last night, so I listened. It was really good, especially the first few tracks - very clubdanceable. If you like progressive music, house music, electronic music, jazz, funk, rock, reggae, hip-hop, or....well, the list goes on, you need to check this one out. I'm definitely going to see what else they've done.

Today's the day that Napster releases their new recommendations list. Probably another 50 albums to listen to - yippee! I almost made it through last week's recommendations...almost.

Napster Wins!

Oh, by the way, I received an e-mail from Rhapsody tech support to try and resolve the problems I was having with the player and the files. There were about 10 downloads I had to install. Fuck it - I'm going with Napster. They've been rock solid and I've not had any problems with them AT ALL.

Yeah, I know, the sound files are only 128kbps,* but at least they've been consistently available to me, and that's MUCH more important.

* Interestingly enough, a couple of the albums I downloaded tonight from their weekly Tuesday new music update were 160kbps and 192kbps. So maybe that's a sign...

Monday, April 10, 2006

I Saw 'im Out of the Corner of My Eye, and I Smoked 'im

I know . . . it was naughty and totally childish, but I had to do it. I hadn't done it in awhile, and wow it felt goowud (not just good, but goowud).

You see, I was driving home from the subway. There's this great S-curve on-ramp to the highway, and I've occasionally tested my TT by moving through it as fast as I think safe. At the end of the curve is a merge with traffic coming from the other side of the grassy knoll. (Well not exactly a merge because we each get our own lane, as they come out of their U-shaped curve to meet with the end of my S-shaped curve. But I digress.)

I saw 'im out of the corner of my eye, coming around his curve just as I was entering mine. He was moving fast in that little rocket on steroids. I guess he saw me because I heard his engine rev way up. I of course obliged him with a rev of my own, and I smoked 'im. He never caught up with me, becoming just another pair of headlights in the sea of headlights behind me on the highway.

I promise, I won't do it again.


From today's "A Word A Day"

publican (PUB-li-kuhn) noun

1. A tax collector.
2. An owner or manager of a pub or hotel.

[From Latin publicanus, from publicum (public revenue), from publicus
(public), from populus (people).]

In ancient Rome, the state farmed out the collection of taxes. The right to collect tax was auctioned off to the highest bidder. Tax collection agents, known as publicans, employed lower-level collectors who made best use of their license. For their severe extraction of taxes, publicans were widely despised. Now, if a publican is a tax collector, what is a republican?

Nine Inch Nails, for Real ?!?

One of the Napster recommendations was to take a listen to Nine Inch Nails' EP called Every Day Is Exactly the Same. Couldn't figure that one out - I'm not a hard rock / goth / industrial fan. Anyway, I listened, and I was shocked. The songs are quite clubdanceable, not at all what I expected. This one's a keeper.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

"What Bill Is Thinking" Article

I'd never head of the Clinton Global Initiative. As of this writing, it appears he's raised around $2.5 Billion (with a B!) to help fight world problems.

More interesting are the comments that others left about the article. I left this comment, only to find that Business Week would publish it in a few days (I guess if they find it acceptable):

I hadn't heard much about this, so it's obviously very low-key (and obviously not the grab for attention others mentioned). I say more power to him and to Ms. Clinton. Yes they had issues, no one should deny that. But compared to the current administration's focus on fighting the rest of the world (a current example is this week's talk of bombing Iran - how ridiculous is that?) and KILLING my military friends in the process, those were small issues. (Let's see, how much time and money were wasted investigating what basically amounted to a headjob? What about the REAL issues out there...). Come on, people, now, we need to vote this current group out, starting with Congress this fall.

Music Subs Take 3, Chacarron, Rube Goldberg, and Herbie Hancock

Now I'm getting stupid DRM errors in Rhapsody. I hit the <OK go out to the server and get my damn license so I can play this newly downloaded music and make it quick> button probably 823 times, but it won't do anything. <ctrl><alt><del> Task Manager / Kill Rhapsody. Contact customer support again.

Oh, and while looking for the error on Rhapsody's website, I came across these two little video tidbits. Don't ask.

Oh, and I've heard two songs from Herbie Hancock's latest album, Possibilities. John Mayer does a song called Stitched Up that is quite good, but the real shocker is A Song for You by Christina Aguilera - I didn't know she could sing like that! The gyrl has pipes!

Music Subscriptions Take 2

So I'm playing with the Rhapsody service. On initially opening the window, it was *very* cluttered and confusing compared to the Napster view. I've played with it more and now it seems okay, though the window still seems busier than the Napster view.

The Rhapsody player allows me to rip any new CDs at 192kbps (my preference) whereas Napster is limited to 128kbps. Also, the downloaded music from Rhapsody is 160kbps whereas Napster is only 128kbps, so it will have more detail in the sound (yippee!). But that fills up my portable player faster (aw shucks).

I can't figure out how to get rid of the Rhapsody player bar on the main screen like I can with Napster. Napster's can be pulled away from the main window, giving more space to the main view. The Rhapsody mini player that I can get to pop up by touching a corner of the screen with the pointer is good to control Rhapsody when I'm in another application.

The tabbed view of Rhapsody (where I can only see Play, Burn, or Transfer one at a time, not all at the same time) makes it harder to copy something from the Play menu to the Transfer menu so that it will copy to my U10. With Napster, it's drag and drop for most everything. Maybe there's a different interface that I don't yet know about.

I wasn't able to tell Rhapsody to put its music into another folder. I want to separate the subscription music from my purchased music, but the folder for Rhapsody wouldn't hold in the preferences. Napster allowed me to do this so that the Napster music is in a "Napster" folder.

Napster links with XM Radio so I can stream stations from XM in the main view. (And it has the added advantage that it doesn't time out like the XM Radio player from the XM website.)

More as I play.....

Saturday, April 08, 2006


As I was trying to figure out my picture to display, I came across this one from 2000.

It was for a company presentation where they took pictures of all the major participants in this event. I don't remember being that young...

Music Subscriptions

I'm trying Napster's and Rhapsody's free trials. They are two of those music subscription services where for $15 a month I can download music to take with me. (They have another service for $10 a month, but you can't load the music to a portable player.) At first I was skeptical. But something happened today and I think I'll hold onto one of them, don't know which one yet, though.

I read a good review about an artist named Van Hunt. Seems he released an album but it hasn't done very well. Could be it's not been advertised?? -- I certainly haven't seen it. Anyway, I went to Napster and took a look. Lo and behold, there it was! I downloaded and actually quite like it, so if I want, I can buy it from the Napster site for 99cents each track. It reminds me a lot of Prince. You should check it out: Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor (30 second clips from Amazon).

Anyway, it was an interesting experience. Quickly, I was able to check out some new music from an unfamiliar artist. I like that. I didn't have to go to the mall to listen to it, didn't have to search the web for snippets of music, I just picked it from the list. It downloaded to my portable and I listened. Great!

As to fees, I'm not sure about the $15 a month forevermore to access the music I download. HOWEVER, if I went out and bought two CDs, or if I downloaded 20 tracks, I'd pay more than that anyway. I have a lot of purchased music on my Archos, so using this service could be a great addition to my purchased music. Both services' interfaces allow me to mix the purchased music and the downloaded music seamlessly, so I don't even have to know the difference.