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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 - 10:14 am - National Weather Service Widget
Weather
The National Weather Service is testing out a mobile-friendly website that lets you input your location and get a nice mobile-formatted page to look at.

On my phone, it's a lot nicer than navigating to the usual page and trying to find what I want there.

http://innovation.srh.noaa.gov/NWSwidget/findYourForecast.php
Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 - 9:11 am - Drunk History
Jen introduced me to Drunk History the other day and now I am completely hooked.

The premise is a little hard to explain, but easy to understand if you watch a clip. Basically an actor or comedian (or comedic actor!) gets drunk and tells a story about a historical figure. The episodes on Comedy Central are about 20 minutes long and split into 3 segments, so the stories are relatively short. But what makes it really great is that the scenes being described are acted out and lip synced. The results are hilarious and surprisingly educational.

Here's John Pemberton inventing Coca-Cola:



The series started as YouTube videos, but now it's on Comedy Central and a third season is coming later this year. Each episode focuses on a particular city, and a Cleveland episode was recently filmed, actually the same day that Ohio State was playing Oregon for the college football national championship.

The first two seasons of Drunk History are on Amazon Prime, which is where I've been watching them, but I think the most recent episode is always available on Comedy Central's web page. The most current one is Baltimore:

http://www.cc.com/shows/drunk-history
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 - 11:23 am - Goodbye Camera, Hello Camera
Dave Picture
My camera broke last week - right when I was hoping to take some photos of The Ryans when they were playing at the Giant Eagle Market District that just opened up down the street from me.

I was pretty bummed out about it, but once I looked into it a little more, I realized I've had my camera for longer than I thought - since October of 2010, or in other words, about eight LiveJournal posts ago.

My new camera is a Canon PowerShot G16, hopefully arriving today, and I'm pretty excited about it. In many ways it's very similar to my old camera, but among the features that I'm most interested in, it has a dedicated "star mode" for taking star trails photos or time lapses, shoots better video than my old camera, and can supposedly use Wi-Fi to connect to my phone, meaning I can upload photos at the point where I take them. Up to this point I've always had to get back to a desktop or laptop to upload photos.
Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 - 12:27 am - Writing Goals
And so I return to my neglected, but very missed, LiveJournal.

I've never really abandoned it, but I've definitely let it lapse. I really want to be doing some more writing, so I'm going to do my best to get this journal up and running again.

Over 10 years ago I took a time management class at Ohio State, and it was a major part of really turning my academics around. One of the most important things I took out of that class is the need to plan and to break things down into small, manageable goals. So I'm going to use this is a chance to brainstorm a bit and put down what I would like to achieve:

LiveJournal:

I guess on the face of it, very few people use LiveJournal anymore and those that do are Russian.

But I want a place where I can just write about things going on in my life, or to share links or interesting information, and this already exists and functions just fine for that purpose. I think over time I had transferred some of my link-sharing activities Facebook, but I'm getting a little tired of Facebook. Not enough to leave it, and I still like it for certain things, but it's not really a blogging platform, and maybe most importantly of all, most of my best friends and my Mom don't have Facebook profiles.

So I intend to revive this journal to serve most of the same purpose it did for me before, with a goal of writing once a day.

I really doubt that any of my LiveJournal friends are still checking their friends pages. I suppose maybe some people might still have an RSS feed tucked into a reader they forgot about. I hope that someone sees it, but I'm not really going to go out of my way to advertise it. That's ok - the idea is that it's just a place to dump ideas, and only something I would be ok publicly sharing. It's worth it even if my Mom is the only one reading it. And from what I understand Jen spent a lot of time reading through my old posts when she was trying to get to know me - which means any writing I've done in the last 13 years was totally worthwhile.

But this isn't the only writing I would like to do.

North Coast Geomatics:

I started my own surveying and mapping company last year. It even has a webpage, although it is woefully lacking in content. I really want to get working on that again, but as part of that, I want to make sure I am making regular blog posts on the site. I would like it to become the focus for anything related to maps or surveying - and not just for people interested in my company. I hope for it to just be a legitimately interesting blog about maps. So I will refrain from posting anything work- or mapping-related on my LiveJournal.

I think trying to get one post a week out there is a good place to start there.

IndyCar/Racing:

The last year and a half I have really gotten back into auto racing in general and IndyCar in particular in a big way. I was a huge fan when I was a kid, then I sort of drifted away from it, but now I'm back into it.

And I would really like to be writing about it, at least some of the time. But I don't want to clutter up my LiveJournal talking about it. Again, if the primary audience for my LiveJournal is my parents or my girlfriend, they don't care about IndyCar news. Honestly almost no one does, but that may be part of what attracts me to it. In any case, it's gotten to the point where I am embarrassed to be putting anything IndyCar-related up on Facebook, and I don't want to feel like I'm cluttering up people's News Feeds.

So I think the solution is to start a new blog somewhere else (not on LiveJournal) to try that out. First I need to come up with some sort of catchy name. Then I need to do some research on blogging platforms since I haven't looked into it at all since 2001. And then I need to get writing. I honestly expect zero audience for this, it's mainly just a chance to write about something I enjoy. Maybe 1 or 2 posts a week.

And finally, it all ties together with:

Twitter:

I finally broke down and got a Twitter account last year. In a sad twist the @fusionpanda handle for Twitter is already taken, so I can be found @fusionpanda21. At the moment my Twitter page is a complete embarrassment, consisting only of a few followers who will probably soon regret following me, and a single retweet. I intend to spend more time with it, and I want it to be sort of a central location for my LiveJournal, North Coast Geomatics, my theoretical racing blog, and my Flickr account. I plan to disable to notifications that currently go from Flickr to Facebook.

We'll see. I thought writing all this down would simplify it a bit and provide some focus, but maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew.
I signed up for a twitter account yesterday. Not to tweet, really, but more because there are an ever-increasing list of twitter feeds I would like to follow, and having an account of my own would make it easier.

I'm still kind of amazed though that both fusionpanda and novalobster.

A major part of why I like the Fusion Panda handle so much is that it's pretty much always available. I guess this is what I get for waiting too long to use Twitter.
Monday, October 7th, 2013 - 10:39 pm - If only it was always this easy
Don't Panic
I generally think that I'm really only proficient enough with computers and technology to get myself into trouble. And as a result I'm usually pretty reluctant to help people out with tech issues, because I feel like I'm likely to just make the situation worse.

But I absolutely love when (my landlord) Jim has a tech issue, because pretty much every time, I can solve it right away and look like a genius while doing so.

Can't connect to the Internet? Check to see if the ethernet cable came unplugged in the back. Taskbar ended up at the top of the screen? Drag it back down.

What I really like is that usually he can show me what's going wrong, ask me one question, and I can almost always fix it right then, and if not, Google hasn't failed me yet.

Today he had something a little different - he said that his microwave (which was installed along with a kitchen remodel 2 years ago) wasn't working. He had an old backup microwave on the counter that he had been using.

At first I told him that if there was something wrong with the microwave he'd probably just have to replace it, because I don't know of any place that does microwave repairs. But his microwave is mounted over the stove, and therefore not so easy to replace (at least as far as we know) so I figured I'd take a look.

It seemed to be working ok, but he put a mug of water in the microwave to demonstrate, and after a minute of what seemed like normal microwave operations, we pulled the mug out, and sure enough, the water was still cold.

But at this point I noticed a light labeled "DEMO" on the screen under the time. I did a little bit of digging with the particularly-user-unfriendly options menu, found a "DEMO OFF" option, tried it again, and voilà, hot water.

I have no idea why a microwave has a demo mode, but this one did. "For when you need your microwave to look like it's working, even though it's not."
Friday, July 26th, 2013 - 12:21 am - These jokes just write themselves
I considered posting this to Facebook, then thought that maybe it might not be the best thing to put there, and it's as good of an excuse as ever to do some LiveJournal writing, so:

Should you send a lady a dick pic? A guide for men, courtesy of Jezebel.

All I'm really going to add to this is that the "Weiner Won't Pull Out" headline from the New York Post may now be my favorite headline of all time.

My phone no longer seems capable of connecting to any of my computers via USB, which caused me to format and factory reset the whole thing this week, only to realize that it didn't change anything. But on the plus side I've come up with some workarounds, and in the process I got to update the software on my phone and play around with it a bit.

I know have a pretty simple system setup on there for updating LiveJournal or posting photos to Flickr, which I will try to take advantage of.
Saturday, May 11th, 2013 - 10:37 am - Also, Wow
Grant
This journal, which admittedly has been kind of silent for a while, is now 12 years and 1 day old.

When I went to go find that video of the eclipse on Youtube, there was a comment from someone born at the moment of the eclipse. He's 13 now, haha.
Saturday, May 11th, 2013 - 10:34 am - Finally - that's what it looked like!
Dave Picture
I was extremely fortunate to be able to go to Munich, Germany to see the total solar eclipse that occurred on August 11, 1999.

It was, quite simply, the most incredible thing I've ever seen. It may very well be the most incredible thing I ever see, although there will be a total solar eclipse over the middle of the USA on August 21, 2017, and one that will pass directly over Akron on April 8, 2024.

But the thing that surprised me the most about the eclipse is that it didn't look the same in person as it does in photos or videos that you might see online or on TV. Here's the TV coverage from the BBC for the eclipse I saw:



Part of it may just be my memory, but it just ddin't quite look like that. Cameras and videocameras just can't handle that kind of contrast well. Your eyes (or at least your brain) are much better at dealing with it.

Until now - when I saw this incredible composite image of a total solar eclipse, from July 22, 2009:

http://www.zam.fme.vutbr.cz/~druck/Eclipse/Ecl2009e/0-info.htm

That's the closest thing I've ever seen to what it looked like to my eyes. I couldn't believe how far the corona seemed to extend away from the disc of the moon like that. The only difference is that I don't think I could actually resolve any of the features on the moon itself, when I was looking at the eclipse. But the corona looked exactly like that. At the time, and I may have been hallucinating because my Mom doesn't agree, it even seemed to me like I could see the corona moving, waving and branching out into space - but it's possible that was an optical illusion created by clouds, or just excitement, I don't know. And of course, it happens so fast - once totality occurs, it's only a matter of a couple of minutes before it's over. And there is a HUGE difference between totality and even just a tiny sliver of the sun sticking out.
Monday, January 28th, 2013 - 11:59 pm - Maybe It's Time To Go Back to SimCity 4
There's a new SimCity game coming out in a month. Generally Civilization and SimCity are my "desert island" games. I never really seem to get sick of the games in their respective franchises.

But I keep reading pretty negative feedback from people who have participated in the SimCity 2013 beta, and it's pretty discouraging.

I try not to be jaded about these sorts of things, but I started out with a lot of skepticism about the new game. It is being developed by Maxis, but... it's now fully owned by EA, which has pretty much systematically dismantled many of my favorite videogames and developers. Purchasing it for PC will require using EA's Steam-competitor, Origin, and the game requires an internet connection to play.

While I've read some praise for the new "Glassbox" engine that the game is running, I've also read a lot of bad things as well. Apparently the regions are very limiting, and the city sizes are so small (2 km x 2 km) that they are effectively neighborhoods, not really cities. There's no ability to change zone density, no highways, no subways.

So it's less and less likely that I will buy it when it comes out. Maybe at some point down the line. SimCity games can be somewhat surprisingly demanding on PCs as well, as one of the few games out there that's much more demanding on the CPU than it is on the graphics card, so it's possible that it wouldn't run that great on my 3-year-old PC.

All of this has me thinking about firing up SimCity 4 again though. I own it on Steam, and over the last 8 years there's been an extensive amount of mod support. And while it still looks good (and supports modern resolutions), the fact that it's 8 years old means it should run very nicely. I used to play it 2 or 3 computer generations ago, so I should be in good shape on that front.

The mod situation with SimCity 4 gets complex fast, though, so I'll probably just try some of the more essential mods (like the Network Addon Mod), and then go from there.
Friday, January 25th, 2013 - 10:33 pm - Royal Garden Subdivision (Better Get Lava Insurance)
Dave Surveying
There's a cool set of images at the NASA Earth Observatory of Royal Gardens, an 1,800-acre subdivision on the Big Island of Hawaii, which would be a pretty cool place to own a home, if only it didn't sit directly down "stream" of the Kilauea volcano shield volcano.

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=80258&src=eorss-iotd

By March of 1983, most of the lots had been sold, and over 75 homes had been constructed in the subdivision, but soon almost the entire subdivision had been overrun by lava flows.

On one hand it seems surprising to me that someone would have been able to build there in the first place, but I suppose this is from a time before there was really even such a thing as FEMA flood maps, let alone potential lava flow maps. But this is pretty much the one place in the country that is most likely to have lava flowing over it at some point in the near future.

Buyer beware!
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 - 9:43 pm - About 10 years too late, but still pretty cool
Kokoro Bear
I got an e-mail today from Amazon, informing me that a list of CDs I had purchased from Amazon.com over the years (none of them in the last 6) were now available to download in mp3 form, should I so choose, through the Amazon AutoRIP program.

No complaint from me, that's pretty nice, but it would have been a lot nicer in 2001.

I'll never forget how amazing it was to get on the open network in the dorm at Taylor Tower, back in 1999-2001. Everyone just basically shared all of their music and videos on their computers, and made it available to everyone else. I wonder if it's still like that today, or that was only in the Wild West period of campus filesharing.
Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 - 1:42 pm - Blizzard, you know what you need to do
QBert
I think at this point, I would almost prefer that Blizzard just stop making games, and make movies instead:

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 - 8:46 pm - NHL Moneymakers
Ohio
There was a good story by Mike Pesca on All Things Considered last night about the end of the NHL lockout:

http://www.npr.org/2013/01/07/168817797/nhl-to-host-abbreviated-season-after-lockout-ends

This was the part I found most interesting, something that my Dad and I had speculated about in the past:

Forbes estimates that only three teams - the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens - make huge profits, and the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers - yes, the Edmonton Oilers - make decent money. The rest of the teams are losing money.

We had guessed that the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Canadiens were among the moneymakers, but the Canucks are a bit of a surprise, and the Oilers a bigger one.

Now that the season is starting up, I may make an attempt to follow the Blue Jackets, Flames and Penguins this year...
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 - 8:40 pm - This is as good of a place as any to start
Double Facepalm
Looking through my calendar, it looks like I made a grand total of 12 entries in my LiveJournal last year, the last of which was on July 3rd.

I'm not sure if that's the longest I've ever gone without writing here. Probably not. But I would really like to get back into the habit.

It seems to me that many of my most memorable posts in the past where when I did something particularly stupid, and since I did something pretty stupid tonight, it seems like a good point at which to write about it, and maybe the ball rolling again.

I was starting to make dinner, and put the burner on to start boiling water for pasta, while I put together a salad.

Now I should back up a little bit here and say that I have a small kitchen, but an overly large (6 quart) crockpot. I don't have a lot of potential counter space for it, and I don't use my stove top all that often (or at least, not until recently), so I just keep it on the stove top most of the time. At any given moment is pretty much has to be sitting on top of a burner.

On this particular evening, I had placed it over the back right burner, and the pot for my pasta on the front left. You can probably tell where this is going.

I heard a nasty hissing noise while I was chopping carrots, looked to my left, and there were plumes of smoke coming out of all sides of my crockpot. Fortunately I was able to diagnose and resolve the problem really quickly, but the end result of this is that my apartment smells like toxic death, and the bottom of my crockpot, at least the plastic portions of it, is all melted and destroyed.

Thank God I caught it as fast as I did. The smoke detector didn't go off, somewhat surprisingly. But even a few more seconds of that would have been very, very bad.

As it is, I'm mainly just embarrassed, and now I need a new slow cooker. This may be a blessing in disguise though, because the slow cooker I had, while nice, was way too large for me. A smaller one will make more sense. And might be less likely to catch fire due to my stupidity.
Thursday, July 19th, 2012 - 9:59 pm - This just got real
Hernia Guy
I buy Kinder Eggs every time I'm in Canada. Now I'm afraid to anymore.

I knew this was technically true, but... man, I can't believe they actually enforce it.

Unwitting smugglers had no idea delightful chocolate eggs with toy surprises inside are illegal
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 - 11:23 pm - Farewell, iGoogle
Usually when Google cancels web services, it's something I've barely heard of and never used, like Google Buzz or Wave.

But today they announced that they're getting rid of iGoogle, the Google homepage dashboard.

This isn't the first web service I've used that's been discontinued (del.icio.us comes to mind), and I see the point about the service not being very relevant anymore, but I guess it's time for me to find a new homepage.

Of course, it doesn't really disappear until November of 2013, so I've got plenty of time.
Beaker
Apparently someone decided it was a good idea to do a low supersonic fly-by with two Mirage 2000 fighter jets at some sort of ceremony in Brasilia.

The result is the shattering of all the windows of the supreme court building.

WARNING - if you watch this, make sure to turn your speakers down, the sonic boom is obviously pretty jarring.



The glass pretty obviously shatters at 0:02-0:03, and at 0:09 it seems like a lot of windows are broken in in the blue glass building in the background.

Maybe someone should let the MythBusters know, but I think the problem in their experiment was the glass didn't have a large enough surface area.

****

Unrelated: I worked out for like a grand total of an hour and 45 minutes tonight, I'm going to be lucky if I can even walk tomorrow.
Sunday, July 1st, 2012 - 4:35 pm - Ice Cream Sandwich
Swedish Chef
The Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) update just came out for my Razr Maxx.

So far so good, it seems pretty cool. I was a bit nervous about it because a lot of the problems with my previous phone (HTC Incredible) seemed to start when it upgraded to Gingerbread.

It's got a new keyboard, runs a bit faster, and I like the new browser quite a bit. For some reason I can't seem to get to the alarm clock from my home widget though.
Sunday, July 1st, 2012 - 12:00 pm - Philip K. Dick Movies Are The Best Movies
Don't Panic
I realize there's always a lot of room to screw this sort of thing up, but the new Total Recall remake looks pretty great:



It seems like they're dropping the whole Mars component for this one, but it's hard to tell from the preview.