Archive for June, 2009

Online Storage with Dropbox

I have a few computers at home. Some are for practical use, others I’ve peiced together for experimental gadgetry. They’re generally used by different people (my wife, my daughter and myself). Right now I don’t have a common shared storage location among all of the computers, and my main computer (which doubles as my gaming rig) is where most of the working data resides. Yes I back up that data several ways, so I don’t need that lecture. What I’m talking about is if I want to work on a file that resides on the main system, and my lovely wife is either updating her blog, recording her podcast, or most likely enthralled in Facebook or Twitter, I can’t easily get to that file to work on it unless I kick her off of that system. If I do, I can copy the file(s) to a portable drive and sneaker it over to my laptop, or I can email it to myself and get it on the laptop, or, or, or. Get it? It’s kind of clunky.

So what I started looking for is some storage in the cloud. The cloud? That’s the Internets, baby! A bunch of companies have been offering free or paid storage where you can upload your files to be able to retrieve from anywhere. People have been wanting these things for a long time, and years ago there was even a plugin that worked with the large amount of space that Google offers for GMail users. It allowed you to store files essentially in email messages. Microsoft has SkyDrive for their Hotmail and Live users. They offer 25 gigabytes of storage, which is huge, but in playing with it, it seemed kind of slow, and if you want to share anything, that person has to have a Hotmail/Live account. AOL (remember them?) had Xdrive, but it was closed down last year. Box offers three tiers of storage and collaboration, but the lowest tier (5 GB of storage) is $7.95 per month. There’s also ElephantDrive (aimed at small businesses and online backup), Mozy (again, focusing on online backup), and FlipDrive (online backup and other services), which all offer their services for a monthly charge (in fairness, Mozy does have a free 2GB plan, though). There are more, but are you seeing a pattern here? I haven’t tried them all, but I’ve done some reading on the various costs and offerings by a bunch of these services. I just wanted something that would let me easily access files from any computer that I may be on… something simple, not a full-service backup and life-altering solution, and free!

dropbox_logoThen I was listening to my friend Paul Muller’s podcast, Caffination, and he mentioned that he’s loving the online storage Dropbox. I looked into it myself and found that it was exactly what I was seeking. They offer 2GB of storage right off the bat, for free. Cool thing is, if you refer someone else, you AND the person signing up gets an additional 250MB of space. So yeah, if you click my referral here, you and I both get more space for free. There’s a few ways of accessing the files, with the simplest being that you go to the website and sign in. Your folders and files are there right on the screen. Folders? Yes, you can create folders to organize your files just like you can on your computer. From the website you upload files from your computer. Need to share one of those files? Copy any of them to the supplied “Public” folder, and it will create an individual web address that you can send to others, and the file will open right in their browser. Damn convenient feature.
Keeping with sharing, you can share any of the folders that you create, simply by clicking on a dropdown ‘Share Folder’ link. You then enter email addresses of other Dropbox users, thus forming a collaboration tool. Need a backup .zip file of the contents of one of the folders? It’s there with a click. What else? You can also undelete files by showing any deleted files in a folder. There is also what amounts to an audit trail called “Recent Events”, which will list what events occurred, when, on what computers, and by whom. Convenient when you want to know who to blame for adding “Buy a Vespa” to your BucketList.doc file.

There is a “Photos” folder, where, if you upload a bunch of pics of your kids, dogs, alpaca fur collection or places you’ve visited in your own home, you can create a view of the pics right from the site. Next time you visit Granny, log in with her computer that she’s been pirating all those movies and music with, and proudly show her all of your pretend girlfriends (Jessica and Angelina will love you for it).

So that’s what the web site has. But one of the most powerful aspects of the service is the synchronization tool. You download an executable (14MB in size for the Windows version) that you install on your computer. The download is available for Windows, Linux or Mac systems. During setup, you fill in your account credentials, and where you want the shared folder to appear on your local hard drive. Once installed, anything in this folder is synchronized with your online Dropbox. They appear just like any other folder on your hard drive, with an exception: you have the ability from your computer’s file manager to share, create new folders, move files around, etc. just like a local file location. That is exactly what it has become, a local file location on your own hard drive. When you installed this utility on your computer, your files synchronized locally, direct from the Dropbox servers. The icons on your local view have a check mark placed over them when they are fully synchronized. So my collection of political figures throughout the ages that I’m Photoshopping myself in with? I can now do that from my gaming rig, my laptop or the kids’ computer, without interrupting my wife from seeing the latest rumors on Justin Timberlake.

If you’re a real tech-head looking to get the most out of a service like this and do some crazy stuff, there’s a wiki with some awesome tips and tricks. They also plan on more enhancements in the future, with an iPhone app, performance improvements and more. If you find it a great service, and need more space than the free account offers you, then they have two paid tiers of 50GB and 100GB, with both monthly and discounted yearly costs.

Now, not all is perfect, and I’d be remiss if I did not include my negative experience with Dropbox. My problem was unique to my setup, but the online community was there to help me fix it. My laptop is running Vista, and I have a “Standard” user account that I use for everything, which is the more secure way of running anything in Windows, instead of using an “Administrator” account. The Dropbox installation hiccuped because of Vista’s permissions settings, and there is not graceful way of getting out of it, getting not-so-happy “Access is Denied” messages. You have to install as the Administrator (like most Windows software), but because of other folders being involved, Vista limited access to that location, even with specific user permissions being set in Vista for the folders. I went to the Dropbox forum boards, searched existing issues,  and posted about my problem. From responses, it appeared that Dropbox developers were not aware of the problem, but other users experienced the similar issue. One user stepped up and offered the workaround, and it worked for me, and I haven’t looked back. To my knowledge this only happens with Vista, and only if you’re running from an account that is NOT an administrator on the system.

The convenience is there, it’s free (unless you need some serious online space), and it offers the simplicity of file synchronization without the need of the overhead complexity of a full backup solution. I’m happy with this solution.

Are you using another solution? Let me know. Have the same Vista setup and want to know where the exact solution is? Let me know, I’ll point you there. What’s that? You want the link so you and I can get that extra 250MB of space? Well, here it is.

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They Grow Up So Fast

fingerI have two children. My daughter is seven and my son is four. I have the “rich man’s family” but I am still waiting in earnest for that rich part to happen. They bleed me dry, I tell you. From an unbiased opinion, they are smart, beautiful and funny children. This opinion has been verified and seconded by my wife, so it is true. She and I do whatever we can to teach and nurture them so they grow to become the best children and, ultimately, adults they can be.

We give them more choices than most children have, reinforce right from wrong, encourage creative thinking, feed curiosities and laugh at the funny stuff as much as we can. As any parent knows, there is the balancing act along any of these. Case in point, as we all know, bodily functions are funny, no matter the age. Despite the burps, farts, nose-picking and crotch grabbing by a four year old being hysterical to us, we walk across that tightrope and try not to show them our laughing… mainly so he won’t be “That Kid.” You know that kid. He’s the one who farts in the restaurant, picks his nose on stage, burps when it’s his turn to read to the class, or grabs his junk for a tender family photo. If it happens, it happens. On that rare instance, it’ll be a source of high-level amusement years from now. Maybe even when he brings a girlfriend over.

So all of this background leads up to something my son did this past week. It was Saturday, a wondrous day off from work, full of yard work and horsing around. It was a break time and I was sitting at the kitchen table eating a sandwich. My daughter was with me eating, whatever it is she actually does eat, my wife was checking email and my son was chilling on the couch watching something Disney. Basically a time of relaxation and reflection for a little while.

My son gets off the couch, walks in the kitchen, stands next to me, and nonchalantly sticks his index finger to my nose and yells out, “Smell my finger!”

Without thinking, I did. His finger smelled like ass.

Before I could recoil, yell out or instinctively fire out my fist at the offender (I wouldn’t hit my kids, but I’m talking this is instict here, people), he turned on his heel and walked back into the living room. My jaw hung slack, and as he walked, his finger went to his nose, and I swore I saw a smile on his face.

I sat there staring at him realizing many things in a very short amount of time:

  1. He caught me completely off guard, and as such I can never trust him again
  2. I had absolutely nothing at all to say to him
  3. His smile was definitely one of malicious amusement
  4. My son gave me the stink finger, which I had managed to evade my entire life up until that moment
  5. I was appalled at what just happened
  6. I was a very, very proud Father

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Apple and the State of Biased Tech

OK, here’s the background on yours truly.  I’ve never owned an Apple product, until the iPod 3rd Generation (first non-Mini with the click-wheel).  Now we (my wife and I) have a total of three Apple products.  I have my iPod (and use it every day for my podcast and audiobook absorbtion on my commute), an iPhone 3G as my phone, and my wife has an iPod Nano.  I’ve always owned, and built, PC’s based on Windows.  In my years working in IT (over 20 now), I’ve never come across an Apple computer that I had to support.
apple-iphone-3g-sSo as can be assessed by this little bit of information, I’m in no way an Apple fanboy.  My iPod changed the way I ingest media, as I no longer carry CDs in my car, I listen to a bunch of podcasts and also listen to audiobooks on my 45+ minute commute each way.  All of our CDs are boxed up in the basement.  My daughter sleeps to music every night, and until recently listened to “kids music” on CD… then she became a Beatles fan.  We have The Beatles: One, and she asked for the CD to listen to… it took 20 minutes to find the damn thing!  I almost considered buying her an iPod, but her radio doesn’t have an input jack… but I digress.
My iPod changed the way I listen to music, and more importantly to me, how I get entertainment in my car.  My iPhone changed the way I use my phone.  Admittedly it’s the first true “smart phone” I’ve ever had.  I played with a few PDA’s in the past, but they lost their luster for me quickly.  They were either clunky, feature-poor, or just not a good user experience.  My iPhone is the first device where I have my phone, email, gaming and the full Internet on one device, right in my pocket.  Never have bathroom breaks been more enjoyable!  This is the second generation iPhone, not the original one.  I wish I were an early adopter, but to be honest, I can’t afford to be one.  Instead, I rely heavily on unbiased consumer opinions moreso than the mainstream tech “pundits”.  I consider myself a smart consumer as a result, mostly out of necessity… I personally can’t drop hundreds of dollars on an unproven piece of tech, no matter how awesome it may seem, and more to the point, how much I may wanty.  For me, it was just good timing all around.  My three-plus year old Motorola Razr was literally falling apart (one of the two hinges had a piece missing, so I had to be careful with the flip of my flip phone), I was “eligible for an upgrade” (one of the biggest pieces of bullshit anti-consumerism out there, but I won’t talk about it right now), and the iPhone 3G was just released.  I was interested in the original iPhone, but it wasn’t until the advent of the iTunes “App Store” that really had me excited.  The fact that any developer could create applications for the iPhone was huge, and iPhone (and iPod Touch) owners were no longer just tethered to the limited number of applications that come pre-installed… well that was the selling point.
In the eleven months that I’ve had it, I’m amazed at how many practical things I’ve been able to do with it, look up on it and help me make decisions with it.  It’s a computer with Internet connectivity, and it happens to have a phone built in.

So what prompted all of this is last week was the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, where historically, Apple will announce new and updated products.  As expected, they announced an updated iPhone, the ‘3G S’ model.  It’s faster, has a better camera, a new magnetometer, larger drive, but most of all, the updated operating system, version 3.0.  The phone itself comes out today, June 19th, but they made the OS available to us existing iPhone and iPod Touch users on Wednesday.  It’s an incremental update, and includes a bunch of features that should have been in the device from the very beginning (cut, copy & paste, a universal search ability, a voice recorder), but the Apple fanboys rejoice and jump around like it’s the coolest tech in the world (despite other devices already having those things).  I know that fanboys exist in anything related to tech and where “sides” can be chosen.  I’ve always been of the side of where it works best, regardless of who made it.  I mean, who really wants to get in a debate over whether a PC or a Mac computer is best?  Who really needs to throw barbs as to how the iPod is superior to the Microsoft Zune? (maybe a bad example here)  What person needs to belittle another over the “fact” that an XBox 360 pwns the PlayStation 3?

I don’t get it.  I’m thrilled that there is competition, and it drives the others to release better, more innovative products.  I’m a PC, but I love the fact that Mac is gaining market share… Windows 7 is looking great so far as a result.  I wonder how hard Microsoft would have pushed their R&D if the Nintendo Wii didn’t come from left field and take market share, mostly because of their innovative new controllers.  Microsoft announced Project Natal at E3, a full body controller (I wrote about it in a previous post).

Taking sides?  I choose innovation, over ANY side.  I want things to be better, stronger, faster.  I want my gaming, online and media experiences to wow me.  If it edges in that direction, I win, hell we all win.  I’ll choose the direction of my purchases based on the honest opinions of the reviewers out there.  If your review has high praise, and there’s a single “but”, I’ll take you seriously.  If you do nothing but praise and love and buy a product simply because it has “Apple”, “EA”, “RIM” as the manufacturer, then take your review and shove it.  You’re a putz not worthy of my read, simply open your eyes already, will you?  You’re an elitist, congratulations… now bite me.

I’ll sit down and tell you WHY I bought a product, and if I realize that I made a mistake after the fact, I’ll admit it.  I won’t, though, sit down and tell you why I’m right and why you’re wrong… and don’t try that with me.

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I love beer. I’ve brewed my own and drank lots of it. Over the past ten years, I’ve become an obnoxious beer snob. I can’t help but smirk and chuckle as some poor soul bellies up to the bar, only to order a Girl Lite or Miller Lame. Hell, I can drink Sam Adams and piss Budweiser. I understand the purpose of that mass produced garbage, pleasant bubbles and alcohol without all that pesky flavor to get in the way. How else could Joey from Staten Island, with his blown out haircut and white capri pants, get Gina, also from Staten Island, wasted enough to blow him on the closest beach to Club XS in Seaside without it? By hinting that he has friends in the mob? Yeah, if by “mob” you mean the group of orange skinned from fake tanning, lip gloss wearing, douche bags he hangs out with. By showing her his low end BMW that mommy and daddy bought him? Doubtful. CHEAP TASTELESS BEER. That’s his only chance of not going home alone to jerk off while watching “Growing Up Gotti” and looking at himself in the mirror. Now don’t get me wrong, I have consumed mass quantities of that cheap swill, but that was when I was young and broke and the whole purpose was to get my self as FUBAR as possible for the least amount of money. I’ll never forget the excitement that Chuck and I felt the day we found a liquor store in Dewey Beach, Delaware that was selling cases of Coors Light for $9.99 when all of our friends thought that the cheapest around was selling them for $16. hehe. We drank that whole night for two bucks a piece. Remember that Chuckie? I believe that was the same night that our one gay friend came home and exclaimed that he got laid and we spent an hour trying to figure out exactly what that meant. EWWWW. Another friend strolled drunkenly through the room where we were passed out at 5 am dragging his mattress out to the balcony because he pissed himself. Nice. Happened often with that guy. Started drinking at 7, passed out drooling in a corner by 10, and 7 out of 10 times, he ruined a mattress. Good times, man GOOD TIMES. Sorry, I’m digressing like a mother fucker.

Anyway, that all ended for me when I met my wife. She had a taste for Sam Adams and I can thank her for showing me the joys of quality beer, among other things (wink wink). My eyes were opened and there was no turning back. When we were dating we used to go to a bar called The Ark. They had a program called the 40/40 club. The deal was that you had to drink 40 domestic and 40 imported beers over the course of a lifetime and you got a free shirt and a mug to hang on the wall that got you reduced price drafts for life. I know a guy who completed the challenge for a second time in only 3 DAYS.  He MAY have had a drinking problem.  I drank my first Guinness there nervously, but now, if it’s on tap, it’s mine. It just doesn’t get any better than Guinness Extra Stout on draft. I could drink six or seven and skip a meal. What’s a seven course dinner in Ireland? Six pints of Guinness and a baked potato.

A couple of years ago, my cousin gave me the greatest gift, a Mr. Beer. I began brewing my own beer in the kitchen. I fell victim to home brewer’s snobbery myself when I dared go into a homebrew shop to buy bottle caps and mention that I used a Mr. Beer. Hippie guy with dreads reeking of patchouli and weed laughed out loud at me. Prick. He should be kissing my ass because I’m the guy that’s eventually going to upgrade to a fancy system. Die in a fire, douche bag. I MAY have anger issues. Again, I digress. I entered the world of the microbrew and would go to the liquor store to seek out new and interesting brews. Vacations turned into quests for the local brewpub. I made it a point to sample what the local brew masters had to offer. Most of the time, it worked out. But once in a while, you end up with something that tastes like it was filtered through a homeless person’s underwear. Not often, but sometimes.

So do yourself a favor. The next time you are in a bar or liquor store, try a microbrew, order a stout, go for the bottle with the name you’ve never heard of. And don’t just chug it, drink it, smell it, savor it. Who knows, you might surprise yourself and actually enjoy the flavor and not just the buzz. Let me know what you’ve discovered, I’d love to hear about it.

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The Male Voice

When word got out that I would be writing for this site, many of my female friends had a laugh about it. They asked me why I wanted to do something like this. Because I don’t think men have a voice anymore. They agreed (how perceptive of them). They then informed me that men have had a voice for hundreds of years and it was now the age of the female perspective. The oppression is over. Okay, but I don’t see how replacing one oppression with another helps matters. But let’s not worry about that right now. However, let me clear up a few things, though.

I’m forty years old. I had no hand in the hundreds of years of oppression they spoke of. At the very least, I wasn’t here for 160 of those years. A few of said women told me I am paying for the sins of my fathers. Oh really? My grandfather fled Poland with his wife in the early 1900’s to escape the grip of communist Russia and being drafted into the Russian army. Once here, he worked his ass off providing for his wife and 11 children. My father worked his ass off providing for his wife and three sons. In a time of “babies’ daddies,” every man should think about being as sinful and oppressive as my fathers. But once again, that’s neither here nor there. I must pay for their sins and not have a voice. But now that I’ve been afforded one; I’ll not waste this opportunity.

So, now here we are… the age of the Vagtastic Voyage. And look how well it’s going. Let’s review the score card. We had Thomas Jefferson and you had Weezy Jefferson. We had Mark Twain and John Steinbeck. You have Jodi Picoult and Janet Elefontthebitch (I think that’s her name). We had the funniest, wittiest person alive in Johnny Carson. You have Oprah and Ellen. An overweight black woman who kisses all the right asses and isn’t ashamed of it and a skinny, gay white woman who is undefeated in Rutger Hauer look-a-like contests. We have Whoopi Goldberg; you have everyone else on The View. And of course that includes the dried up one who talks like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons. We have Barack Obama, and you have Thelma from Good Times. We have…okay, you win that last one. We have Batman, and you have Wonder Woman.

There is something about Wonder Woman that is amazing. She flew an invisible jet. I drive a visible car. I have gone on walkabout more than several times in a mall parking lot looking for that car. Never, in comic book or television series, did Wonder Woman ever aimlessly walk around looking for her fuckin jet. She also had a magic lasso that made you tell the truth once she threw it around you. All I ever had were some old neck ties and clothesline rope that I would use to… forget it.

So, I think you see my point. I’m not saying the only voice should be the male voice. I respect and honor the female perspective. In fact, it’s one of my favorite forms of amusement. But we need to hear from both sides. Not just one. We need that balance. We need the guys to not look at the map and have no clue where they’re taking us, and we need women to tell those guys they missed the exit five minutes after they passed it. Without both…we’ll never get anywhere.

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This One Time at Band Camp…

I don’t know about you – Hell, I don’t even know you anymore, but everywhere I turn movie lines have entered the lexicon of my life.   Whether I’m at work, the coffee shop,  at home with the kids or even after a fancy dinner with the wife I cannot avoid the influence of movie-speak.

It’s like an offer I can’t refuse, no matter what happens in life there’s a line or two…

• Getting coffee? “I take it black, like my men.” (Airplane)
• Something goes wrong? “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!” (Airplane)
• Something goes right? “It’s good to be the king.” (History of the World, Part 1)
• Someone laughs at your expense? “I’m Funny How? Funny, like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh? I’m here to fucking amuse you?” (Goodfellas)
• Somebody does something stupid or good? “Way to go Hamilton!” (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
• Kids crying? “There’s no crying in baseball!” (A League of their Own)
• Golfing? “Cinderella story, from outta nowhere, here at Augusta, about to be the Masters champion.” (Caddyshack)
• Really want to know something? “What’s in the box? What’s in the box? C’mon, tell me, what’s in the fucking box?” (Seven)
• See someone you know in a crowd? “I know that dude – he used to work at All-American Burger!” (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
• Trying to motivate someone to keep going? “Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” (Animal House)
• Have to take something from your pocket and want to announce it? “Excuse me while I whip this out.” (Blazing Saddles)
• Out to dinner and someone announces they are full? “How about a wafer thin mint?” (Monty Python – The Meaning of Life)
• Trying to divest yourself of a problem (Pass the buck…)? Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.” (Batman – The Movie)
• Get hurt? “It’s just a flesh wound.” (Monty Python and The Holy Grail)
• Someone ask about your weekend plans? “Actually it’s a nice little Saturday, we’re gonna go to the Home Depot, yeah check out some wall paper maybe some flooring, maybe even a little Bed, Bath and Beyond, if we have enough time” (Old School)

These are just a sampling of my favorites and also aren’t meant to be anatomically correct since over the years some of my words may morph but you get the idea.

Anyway, I could keep going but while I was spouting these off in no particular order I heard shots fired and while I tried to count them I lost track and now I have to ask myself one question, do I feel lucky?  Post your faves in the comments.

PS – Just left a meeting discussing our company picnic and got to whip out a favorite, “How much for just one rib?” (I’m Gonna Get You Sucka!”)’s_100_Years…_100_Movie_Quotes

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From the Mouths of Babes

If you’ve read my bio, you’ll know that I have 5 kids. No, I’m not Mormon or an orthodox Jew. Yes, I know what causes that to happen. My wife just wanted a big family and it’s not my fault that she digs my flava. Don’t be hatin’. I will admit that it’s a bit foreign to me, being an only child and all. I was really concerned for my father, also an only child, when we told him that we were going to have our second. The look on his face told me that he thought we were completely insane and I’m not so sure that he was wrong. Anyone know a good doc to give a vasectomy? A bad one? I don’t care at this point. Maybe a hooker with a heart of gold who would be willing to kick me in the peaches? I digress.

It seems that almost every day, one of my kids says something that makes my wife and I laugh out loud. They are so cute, and saying something completely innocent, but it will cause us to have to leave the room. I thought I’d share a few.

Said by a 4 year old to me while he was misbehaving at Target. Couldn’t discipline him after that one. The wife and I laughed for an hour.

“Mommy, your milkers are showing”
Stated very loudly by my oldest, then age 3, while he was in a dressing room with the wife as she was trying on bathing suits in the Motherhood store in the mall.  The wife could hear people chuckling outside the door. Side note, I love those milkers.

Exclaimed by my son as my wife, very pregnant with twins, hobbled through the room. I lost it. Big Mommy was trying to hit me for laughing so hard but I ran into our laundry room and she got stuck in the doorway. I distracted her with some Godiva chocolate and was able to escape with my testicles intact.

“I really have to work on my tan if I’m going to be the next Tiger Woods”
Statement by my 9 y/o when deciding his future. Laughed out loud on this one.

“Dad, can you get me a notebook, so I can write things down and have a little diarrhea?”
I almost spit my coffee all over the dash.

“What are those little beans in there?”
4 y/o son made a great discovery in the tub one day. Hasn’t taken his hand off of that area since. It’s like he’s pulling taffy.

“Peepee too pointy”
During a diaper change, Daddy was proud. Wonder what was on the TV for that to happen?

From a very frustrated little boy

“Dad’s just upset because of that thing that’s bullshit”
My 9 y/o said that to me this past Sunday. Wife was not amused. I was extremely amused

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play…
“pea nickels on my spout”

“Mommy, when will I get push ups like you have”
My oldest daughter checking out my wife’s fun bags. Hopefully she never will. I shudder to think of all the ogling dirtbags like me.

“If dad was in Star Wars, he would be Boba Fatt”
Funny. If he was in Star Wars, he would be Luke Nosepicker.

“Dad, I crapped my pants”
Self explanatory. I already knew because I saw the turd fall from his pant leg. We’re not welcome at that Wendy’s anymore.

“It’s all crap!”
Frustrated 5 year old boy because I told him to do his homework.

“I’m not new to this, I’m true to this.”
From my 4 y/o daughter last week while being praised for helping Mommy.

There are others but I can’t seem to remember any of them right now. Too many whip-its killed too many brain cells. Please post some of your own!!

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Friend + Foe = Good times!

Well, here it is almost a week into our foray into the blogging world and we have yet to give one of God’s greatest gifts its props. It is our friend, alcohol. Perhaps we have taken it for granted this week assuming that when all is wrong with the world, it would be there just waiting for us. Actually that is exactly what it does, but I digress. With the weekend upon us, I think it is a great opportunity to share one of my favorite alcoholic beverages with the world, and I couldn’t do it without my close friend Mr. Beer. Yes, beer by itself is a treat, but what would you say if I told you that you could mix that wonderful libation with another liquid, that at multiple times in my life, has been considered the root of all that is evil? Of course I am talking about my long-time nemesis, the one, the only… Tequila. Many a bad night can be attributed to the evil-doings of one Jose Cuervo, but about two years ago, he and I came to a truce; I would no longer do multiple shots at the end of a long night drinking and he would not come back an hour later all over the street, floor, toilet, my shoes, etc.

So here it is the perfect combination of friend and foe, I give you, the BEERGARITA:

(2) 12 oz. cans of Minute Maid Lime-Aide concentrate
12 oz. of Jose Cuervo Tequila
(4) 12oz. of your favorite light beer (I prefer Miller Lite for this)

First, get a big pitcher and pour in the Lime-Aide. Then fill up one the empty Lime-Aide cans with tequila and dump it in. Next, pour in the beer and stir. Serve it over ice in whatever size glass you desire. Not only is it refreshing, but also will make you feel reeeeaaal good. We started drinking the Beergarita two summers ago as a “Summertime” drink, which continued into the Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring and here it is Summer again. So give it a try, mix up a batch and let me know what you think.

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‘BoneMan’s Daughters’, a Review

BoneMan’s Daughters
By Ted Dekker

401 Pages
Center Street Publishing
Division of: Hachette Book Group

Page 2

Most of the time verifying and assessing intel was like looking at a circuit board through a telescope. Or like trying to open a tin of canned food with a tuba.

Oh my GOD! That is funny. Open a tin of canned food with a tuba. LOL Holy shit I can’t stop laughing. I’m being sarcastic. That’s stupid. A tin of canned food? LOL Now THAT is funny. Not a tin can. Not a can of tuna. A tin of canned food. Sorry excuse for a metaphor. I understand humor was the target but that target was badly missed. And yes the second sentence of his is a sentence fragment but remember…it’s creative writing.

Page 10

Let me set this one up for you. The driver mentioned in the following passage is a soldier driving a Humvee in Iraq and they’re taking fire. Is his reaction warranted? Take a look.

“Crap!” The driver, who had been fixated on the convoy’s tracks, slammed on the brakes. “Crap, down, down, down!”

LOL Crap? LOL I’m not saying that EVERYONE curses. However, when someone is shooting a rocket at your vehicle, I have a feeling that “crap” isn’t a response that would be given. Crap. I guess he thought the exclamation point after “crap” would” really drive the point home and make it rough. LOL It’s also funny too: Crap, down, down, down! Well I don’t know anyone who can shit, up, up, up. Ancient Irish proverb say: You can’t shite higher than your arse. I think that “Crap…down, down, down,” would have worked better. Ohhhhh fire trucks, they’re shooting at us again. What the French toast is wrong with those people!? When is this freakin’ war gonna end?

Page 17

I’ll set this one up too. The following is two teen-aged girls talking.

“Uh-huh, just the freakin beginning, what did I freaking tell you?”

“Is everything freaking with you?”

LOL You know…I wouldn’t even hang out with a girl that had a potty mouth like that. Little bitch. If she’s going to talk like a truck driver, let her hang with truck drivers! She wouldn’t need me as a friggin friend.

Page 25

The following is in reference to a soldier who was attacked during the Humvee Crap Rocket incident.

His memory of the firefight lit up his mind like a bomb blast.

Let me be the first to use a grown up word. Give me a fuckin break. Lit up his mind like a bomb blast? Let’s get real…seriously. That is so hoakie.

His eyelids fluttered open to see a dimly lit room.

I HATE people who have seeing eyelids. Don’t those people get on your nerves?

Page 34

A crew cut topped Assistant Director in Charge’s large square head,…

I wonder if he tried to make that sentence sound like an abortion, or does writing shit like that just come natural to him?

Page 39

They had a male killer who weighed roughly a hundred and seventy to two hundred pounds, wore Brahma boots, and drove a Ford F-150 pickup. Helpful, but by no means isolating. In the Republic of Texas, everybody wore boots and drove trucks and could sing “Dixie” from memory.

LOL Ok, I see the boots and the truck. Where the FUCK does singin Dixie come in? LOL That is just flat out stupid. So here’s what we’ll do. We’ll stake out all the karaoke bars and wait for a guy to drive up in an F-150 and if he’s wearing boots, we’ll follow him inside. If he sings Dixie and DOESN’T look at the monitor…he’s our man! Arrest ‘im! The murderin son of a bitch.
I wish I were in the land of cotton, where knowin how to write has bennnnn forgotten…

Page 68

Ok, on this page the military guy held captive decides to give his captors the wrong street address of his wife and daughter. He’s going to give them an address that doesn’t exist. In this day and age that is just fucking stupid. You could Mapquest the address or go to to find if it’s valid.

Page 69

Ok, LOL, he gives them the wrong address and the following ensues:

The radio crackled. Soon. Only seconds had passed. They’d planned this down to the last detail.

“The address doesn’t exist,” a voice said in Arabic.

NO SHIT! LOL They planned it to the LAST detail. Umm, let’s have a computer handy to check the address JUST in case he doesn’t tell us the truth and gives us a fake one! LOL Very dumb.

Page 86

His legs shook as if they were in a blender.

Wouldn’t your legs get mauled if they were in a blender? Sure they’d shake but…I don’t get it.

I read 102 pages of this masterpiece. My conclusion? I’m not sure there is a story. IF there is one, it’s well hidden. I THINK he’s trying to hint that the military guy in custody IS the Boneman but that makes no sense. The Boneman is in prison when this is happening. Now, it’s brought out that the man in prison might NOT be the Boneman. Ok. However, when the military man is forced to kill people the same way the Boneman did, it’s AFTER the Boneman murders. So, IF the author wants you to think the military man is the Boneman and the man in prison isn’t…it’s idiotic. The story…for lack of a better word…sucks. As you can see, the writing isn’t the tightest. So, hence, therefore…don’t waste time with this shit. I feel there is an attempt here to be suspenseful but it fails worse than any Oprah Winfrey weight loss plan.


Microsoft XBox 360 at E3

xbox360-logoYesterday was Microsoft’s big day at E3 in Los Angeles.  E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is a yearly convention and trade show primarily for the gaming industry.  I say “primarily” because the lines continue to blur in the gaming, entertainment and media world.  The conference itself has had it’s ups and downs the last several years in terms of popularity and attendance, as the organizers made drastic changes to the “rules” of the convention.  Despite the changes, and rampant rumors that E3 was doomed, many gaming publishers and developers hold off on releasing news of upcoming products for the fanfare of this expo.

Microsoft entered the console gaming industry as an enormous underdog with their XBox console back in 2001.  At the time, Sony’s PlayStation 2 was fully entrenched, the Nintendo GameCube and the waning Sega DreamCast consoles were still selling as well.  Definitely not an easy road of entry.  Some good games, and their new XBox Live service helped boost sales for the mostly PC-software-based company.

In 2005 Microsoft released the XBox 360 console.  It was completely redesigned from the ground up, which essentially what every console release, from every manufacturer, has been.  Only this time, Microsoft changed the paradigm of consoles.  This console came out of the box with all the standard fare: better graphics, faster processor, the ability to play new games (duh), some compatibility with previous-generation games, and Internet connectivity.  What was new, in the console realm, was a hard drive built in to save games, plus consumers had the ability to upgrade the hard drive to a larger one.  Never before had consoles been upgradeable on the storage end (most of them just had cartridge slots only).  Microsoft now had the ability to expand on their base console in ways we, as consumers, were only able to if you owned a PC.  They have been able to completely redesign the XBox 360 operating system, integrated the console into your home network (allowing for music and picture sharing), and they recognized the shift in how consumers can use the 360… as a home entertainment medium, and not just for gaming.  Last year they partnered with the online DVD renting company, Netflix, to provide streaming movies right through the 360.  Previously, people could watch DVDs, but now they can conveniently stream movies as well.

Changing gears a bit, to the Internet-only world…  it’s no news that social media has become extremely popular not only with the tech-savvy, young or geek crowd.  Social media sites and services like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, and hundreds of others, have become the most popular “hangouts” on the net.  News agencies, superstar celebrities, corporations and even the middle-aged non-geek, are all over these sites.  I’m not going to get into these specifically, but gamers use these services to organize planned meetups, the games they’ll play, and when.  Microsoft has seen this trend and worked to integrate this social aspect not only into the game (which the game developers have done already, and what Microsoft did in a previous operating system update), but into the before-game aspect.  How?  Well Microsoft announced yesterday that they will be integrating the two most popular social media entities, Facebook and Twitter, into their system.

facebook_logoMost gamers would dismiss this as crap and rebel against it if they can, but I see it a bit differently.  I’ve tried, a number of times, to organize just a few of us to play on the 360 on a Friday night.  All of us have full-time jobs, are either married or living with our better half, and some of us have kids… it’s not easy.  I’ve used email, phone calls and text messages all to organize a couple of hours of game time.  Normally, my console gaming is completely separate from my PC.  The way I have my home setup is pretty sweet, as my computer is right behind the TV that I play my 360 on, so I just have to swing my chair twitter_logoaround.  For most, the console is in the living room, and the computer is not.  Even if you have a laptop, it still doesn’t matter, they are on two separate devices.  I’m either on the PC, or I’m on my 360.  I’m usually not going to take the time to stop playing, log into whatever on my PC to see who’s online and who might be interested in playing, I just want to play.

With this social media integration, gamers will be able to not only easily communicate with those that you wish to play with, but also let others know that you are gaming, and playing a specific game.  If your buddy Johnny Bravo was checking the latest drama or taking a test on what Golden Girl he’s most like on Facebook, he can also see that you’re playing Left 4 Dead, and feel the urge to squash some zombies with extreme force.  Where good ol’ Johnny may not have been wanting to play earlier, now he’s all over it, thanks to your update on Facebook via the 360.  I see more of the advantage of that “alert system” than anything else.  Just like not stopping to go on my PC, I’m also not going to stop playing to go on the 360 version of Twitter or Facebook and have a conversation.  Typing things out without an actual keyboard interface is painful, and a waste of time.  So if the implementation is done right, it could make it much easier for us gamers to get the word out, to organize it, and get your friends into it.

Microsoft also announced a number of games yesterday, but I won’t go too far into them, although Left 4 Dead 2 makes me want to speed up time until it comes out.  I do have to say it must have been quite a, umm, moment, when both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr came out and talked about The Beatles: Rock Band.  As my seven year old daughter loves the Beatles, it’s a must buy.  Oh yeah, there were also a couple of flagship Halo games coming out as well, as well as Metal Gear Solid Rising.

One of the most innovative announcements was the direct result of how the Nintendo Wii changed game controlling.  It’s called Project Natal, and it is a full body motion controller, facial recognition, voice recognition, and you can control games and other areas of the 360 with motions… that means NO controller.  Sounds like an amazing technology, but I question whether it’s mature enough to really work.  I guess we’ll see, as it is compatible with all existing 360’s, and Microsoft will be selling it with all new ones.
Another minor announcement, well minor to me because I probably won’t use it, is the partnership with the music site,  Microsoft Live Gold members will have the ability to play music from at no additional charge.  That Netflix deal from last year also gets a full 1080p resolution upgrade, with the ability to add movies to your queue within the 360.  Did I say earlier that the lines continue to blur in the gaming, entertainment and media world?  Microsoft, at least their XBox division, is the one with the giant pink eraser, no longer in the corner of the room.

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