The Web 2005-09

I want to ride it where I like...

As I type this, Katie's asleep on the couch. We're supposed to go run some errands and get some stuff done, but we just got back about an hour ago from a 20-mile bike ride up and down the Fox River Trail

We had beautiful weather and it was a gorgeous ride, save for the point where you ride past the sewage treatment plant in Batavia. If you weren't feeling hunger pangs before...

But Katie's now completely wiped. I know she's getting tired on our rides when she starts to lean forward with her forearms on the handlebars instead of her hands. Never a good sign. Thankfully that didn't happen until about mile 18. 

She did take a few pictures. Sadly my PowerShot is in the shop with a busted zoom dial. But Katie took some (one of those times when Facebook readers should click through to view the photos)

Do I wake her up? I know we've got a lot to do, but I'm not suicidal.

I'm so stoked about this little gem I ordered. It's an official Invaded! coffee mug for Avitable's 2009 Halloween party

This thing is truly a work containing both fine craftsmanship from the folks at and the artwork of Dave from Blogography. 

Invaded!   Invaded!

Unlike most coffee mugs, the design is not raised at all. It is so protected by ceramic glaze that there is no way to accidentally damage the logo without destroying the mug. And it's a heavy-duty mug at that. This is my favorite coffee mug second only to the kick-ass Jack Skellington mug that Katie bought me down at Disneyworld last year.

Kudos to Adam, Dave, and Zazzle on a fine product.

And no, I'm not receiving any sort of compensation from Adam, Dave, or Zazzle for this shameless plug other than warm, fuzzy feelings. I can't even go to the party. I'm just going to have to celebrate with my mug.


Buried in my shit...

Okay, Comcast, you're really starting to piss me off.

Not your cable services so much. The quality's been fine and we've had little to no downtime on our service. Sure your pricing could use some help. I'm hoping this digital conversion will make that better because, ideally, we'll no longer need to pay extra for HD content since that will be the rule as opposed to the exception.

No, my problem is with your HD DVR. Oh it frustrates me so. And I think our two-year-long courtship may soon come to an end if we can wrangle a deal to our benefit.

You see, until we got our plasma TV and HD broadcasting, we were devoted TiVo users. However, HD broadcasting takes up four times as much space as regular programming on a TiVo and, since the HD TiVo was about $500 at the time, we settled for the Comcast variant. Small monthly fee and we don't have to buy it outright. Sounded ideal.

But the box is SLOW to react, difficult to program, catches all copies of a show even when I set it to "New Episodes Only," shuts off whenever it damn well feels like it, doesn't have a trash bin from which we can recover deleted programming, and doesn't have that cool few-second rewind that TiVo does after fastforwarding through a commercial break.

But the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back? It has begun to spontaneously delete programs off the box that we haven't yet watched. Last night, we got home and were going to watch the second part of The Last Templar (stop laughing) from Monday night, only to discover that it, along with the first four episodes of the second season of Damages, were all gone. There were others, too, but we can't remember what they were. And, to boot, there were five copies of the exact same episode of The Closer on there. AGAIN, we set that program to only catch new shows and this was one we had already recorded and watched and deleted. To make things even weirder, those four episodes were marked with times like 86, 32, 79, and 91 minutes even though the episode was only 60 minutes.

Tivo What gives, Comcast? Why is your product so inferior?

Well, guess what? We have an old TiVo that is due for service at Best Buy before the warranty expires (just found the paperwork) and, if we can make it happen, we hope to be able to swap it out and pay a little extra to upgrade to the HD TiVo that is now $200 less, hella more reliable, and will give us back our cute little TV dude. We miss him. Can he ever forgive our betrayal?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Well hell, Shiny does my blog better than I do.

He's calling it Plagiarism Week '09. I'm calling it a tryout. And he wins. My blog is yours, Shiny. Enjoy!

(bet he didn't see that one comin'.)

You gotta know when to hold 'em...

I know I'm not much of a poker player. That much I've readily admitted to in the past.

However, I was kinda forced into learning to play organized Texas Hold 'Em last year by some friends who are poker junkies and, aside from my first match which was my intro, I did pretty decently. Actually, I won the tournament.

Now, I kinda like playing poker. Not that I'm good at it or anything. But I don't loathe the thought of playing anymore.

And damn if this particular tournament doesn't sound like fun...


It's a Texas Hold 'Em online tournament exclusive to bloggers who actively write (more than twice a week) and whose blogs have been in existence for over two months! And it's a free buy in.

I found out about this at both Neil's and Karl's sites and Karl has since been trying to talk me into playing.

Check out the potential booty (from the event site):

  • 1st place - World Series of Poker Main Event package (valued at $12,000)
    This package includes a free $10,000 buy-in to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event, a free hotel stay during the WSOP main event, and $1,000 additional spending money.
  • 2nd-9th place - $1,500 World Series of Poker entry
  • 10th place - $1,000 online heads-up match with Team PokerStars' Wil Wheaton
  • 11th-20th place - $370 seat in the PokerStars WSOP 150-Seat Guaranteed tournament
  • 21st-40th place - 4GB iPod Nano
  • 41st-50th place - $215 Seat in Sunday Million
  • 51st-54th place - PokerStars Letterman's Jacket

I so want in on this tournament. Of course there are probably well over 2,000 entrants as of right now (1,925 as of the time that Karl registered). But I think it'd be a blast.

When it's free, what have you got to lose?

Oh yeah, the love and respect of your family, that's what. It's scheduled for Father's Day (June 18). That's the big catch. Katie and I will be with my family so justifying playing poker for a few hours may take a miracle of modern debate.

Maybe next year. Actually, I'm thinking definitely next year (barring another scheduling snafu on their part).

Out in the Suri with the fringe on top...

I'm not feeling particularly inspired in terms of writing some kind of cool story or whatnot. So I think today will be a recap of all kinds of different little things.

Fun With Dead Trees
Some... er... issues came up with FWDT. For some reason, a few browsers on various platforms were unable to properly view my new book review blog and, of course, I didn't know them until I started receiving some comments about the problems.

I tested seven browsers on two different platforms and OSs and found that two of them weren't displaying the blog properly. And none of the browsers were allowing comments whatsoever.

The issue was traced back to some illegitimate coding in my dropdown search menus. They weren't closed out properly. There are a few other coding issues that the W3C doesn't seem to like, but those eminate from the auto-coding that TypePad's XML writes up. I have no access to it whatsoever. So, hopefully, they will clean it up.

But, I am pretty sure that commenting is working right now on the browsers that you could previously view the posts with. So please try it on some random reviews. But I still have some other bugs to work out.

Also, if you are still having issues regarding viewing of the site, please comment here or drop me an e-mail and let me know what browser, version, and OS you are using.

I just got word back from TypePad that I can convert this template to something called "Advanced Templates." They say it should give me the level of access I need to make the changes necessary to operate the site properly. But I lose the GUI design aspect of it all. Not sure what to do. The thought freaks me out a bit. Has anybody out there played with TypePad's Advanced Templates feature before?

I knew I probably should have held off on the announcement of the book blog another day or so, but, damn if I wasn't just so excited about it. I had to share it.

Blogography Turns 3!
This week marks the third blogiversary of my buddy, Dave. And he's having a bash to beat all bashes. If you hurry over to his site, you may still be able to take part in some of the giveaways he has going on. Bear in mind, if you've never been much of a commenter on his site, you will have to take part in some quizzes to prove your Dave-legiance.

Happy three years, man. Keep 'em coming!

Suri Cruise
Yep, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes pulled off a silent delivery of their spawn this week and named her Suri. In all, I like the name Suri. It really is a nice name. Just not for their kid.

When I first heard the name, I immediately thought that "Suri" has a strong Indian sound to it and Tom and Katie are decidedly NOT Indian. But this view has changed since I discovered that they chose the name because it is Hebrew for "Princess" or Persian for "Red Rose."

But the funny thing about it all comes from the fact that "Suri" is also Japanese for "pickpocket." If anything, she certainly has her career path chosen for her and it should only take a year or two to be at the proper height for her to practice on her dad.

"Not Ready to Make Nice"
I don't know if any of you out there are fans of The Dixie Chicks. If you are, might I recommend their new single "Not Ready to Make Nice"? It's a great track and it's the Chicks making a political statement as only they can.

C'mon, any song with the lyrics "I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down, I'm still mad as hell and, I don't have time to go round and round and round" can't be all bad, right?

Oh, and it's an iTunes exclusive. Hope you're a user.

And the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe, and saw...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...

Gather one, gather all, for this is a moment none of you will soon forget...

A little over a month ago, I mentioned how one of my goals was to finally launch my book review blog. Remember that one? I didn't sound entirely optimistic about it at the time. In fact, it had actually been in the works for a few months before that.

It all stemmed from me wanting to be able to present my book reviews to a much larger audience, one like, say, the blogosphere. I've been operating my book review site, Fun With Dead Trees, as a static HTML site for nearly eight years. It was time to make it a bit more interactive, a bit more fun, a bit easier to maintain.

Now, it's here.

Say hello to Fun With Dead Trees, version 2.0...


For now, it's just a subblog of my main site. But, eventually, I'll get off my keister and reserve a URL for this beast.

As it stands, I've got a little more than 140 book reviews on the site spanning eight years of personal reading (with one guest review). Searches can be performed based on Most Reviewed Authors (two or more reviews), series, genre, reviewer, rating, and alphabetically by both author and title. I also have RSS and Atom feeds for the site and a Bloglines subscription feature. Hopefully, they all work. We shall see.

My goal was to make this site as user friendly as possible. Hence all the different search methods. As the need arises to add more search terms to the categories, I can do so with relative ease (relative to my static HTML site, that is). I can also add more reviewers should anyone be so inclined.

So browse around, leave some comments about the reviews (don't be afraid to tell me I'm full of it; but be fair), and maybe even consider becoming an FWDT reviewer.

Oh, and if you ever need to find the review site, just click on "Books" under "Reviews" over in the left menubar.

Let's pretend we're strangers for tonight...

Lostblogsbadge_2Ladies and gentlemen, today marks the official one-week countdown until the start of the first Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign for Paul Davidson's forthcoming book The Lost Blogs.

For those not in the know, I suggest you read all about the campaign and please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to participate.

As of today, we are at 37 participants in the campaign/contest. This is far more than I ever expected and even Paul is blown away at how many people are willing to take part in this little brainchild.

As a result of this level of participation, I'm actually going to be taking a week off work to admin the contest. Yes, I know Paul is the one who makes the ultimate determination of who will be winning the prizes, but, since I came up with the idea, I thought it would probably be a good idea to read all the entries as they go up. Plus, I'm just really looking forward to what all of you will have to say. We have a lot of great writers who are willing to give some of their time to help promote Paul's book and it should make the competition that much more interesting.

This will be one of my final pleas to the blogger community... if you are interested, get involved. Spread the word. Take part in a contest that not only promises to be fun, but offers prizes! Yes... prizes!

And, for those of you who have already given the word that you are participating, please drop me a line either via e-mail (link at the top left of this page) or in the comments to this post to confirm that you are still participating and that you have a histoblogger chosen. But, please don't tell me who it is; just that you have one chosen.

Pay attention to my site a little later today as I will post Jen's blogroll of all the participants in the contest in my sidebar. She has helped out a lot by putting this blogroll together and it will make finding the participating blogs that much easier. Thanks, Jen!

To all those participating, good luck! Next week will be a lot of fun.

C'mon baby, light my fire...

A few paragraphs down the page, I'm going to ask you to click a link to iFilm. There you will find a video that I find incredibly funny. While there is no nudity in this video, there is pervasive porn-themed language. If you are easily offended, well, you're probably frequenting the wrong blog in the first place (but that's a whole other issue altogether), but I would avoid clicking this link while simultaneously eliminating me from your bookmarks and/or Bloglines subscription.

Don't feel bad about it, I would probably do the same thing... but I'm not easily offended.

I take no responsibility whatsoever for permanent or temporary mental scarring that this video may cause. I loved it. Doesn't mean you will.

MiscpornwarsThis is a video that a friend e-mailed to me. It was absolutely hilarious and I felt compelled to share it with you.

What do you get when you mix the porn industry and the Star Wars films? Porn Wars. Odd bedfellows, I know - pun fully intended. But this just might make your day.

And I would like to say that, while this is low budget, the choreography is great! But what would you expect from two "actors" who, all things considered, really should be quite limber.

I would try to embed the video right here in the blog, but for some reason, only the audio works when I do it. No video whatsoever. So I figured it might be best to just link you over there. Plus, if I send you over instead of embedding it, there is less risk of you getting fired should your boss be walking by your office/cubicle and the video autoplays and our starlet screams out, "Oh Johnny, I can't wait to ride your ..."

Well, you get the picture.

So here you go... I present Porn Wars.

Do you want to play?

Katie and I had some beer last night with our homemade calzones and it hit her pretty hard so she went to bed relatively early.  Apparently, it doesn't take much Piraat Ale to do you in. 

Me?  I was wide awake.  So I went downstairs determined to beat that sticking point fo mine on Lego Star Wars.  It really was pretty easy, as Dave said it would be, and I solved the level and went on to my fight against Darth Maul in part 6 and, overall, defeated The Phantom Menace.  I even played through the first level of Attack of the Clones which was "Discovery at Kamino" or some such.  That was a really fun level as you get to battle Jango and Boba Fett and even face off with the Slave-1.  I love that ship.  It's always been one of my favorite Star Wars vehicles.

Took me about an hour and a half to do all that and then I went to bed.

I am officially addicted to this game.  I love it.  This is the first time since Mario Kart: Double Dash that I have been so enamored of a video game.

Oh my, Obi Wan... it appears as though Master Kapgar
has fallen victim to the Dark Side of PlayStation 2.

Hey, at least I admitted that I'm developing a problem.  It's the first step in recovery, right?  But not nearly as fun as actually solving the game.  Heh heh.

I've also been playing around some more with both Typepad and Flickr and found out how to display random photos on my blog.  This would've been an easy task if I was still maintaining my blog the old static HTML way.  However, I was not quite sure how to incorporate HTML into a sidebar in Typepad.  I figured it out and now I've got that pretty Flickr Badge on the left.  Ain't it cool?  And it will load up new random photos from a selection that I designated each time you come back.  Click on any of them or the multi-colored "Flickr" name above the badge to visit my photo albums.

Now that I know how to incorporate HTML into the sidebars, I think it's time to play with Blogrolling so I can stop worrying about manually adding the links for good blogs to my "Befriend Me" Typelist.

One other cosmetic change, and very slight at that, is that I moved the "Hear Me" Typelist above the "Read Me" list.  I change Hear Me more often than I change Read Me, so it made sense.

Oh, and if you're wondering how someone like Kelly Clarkson made my Hear Me list, don't even bother asking.  I like her new album.  She is a very guilty pleasure.  Okay?  You over the initial shock yet?