Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Break Dancing Robot Wants to Kick Your Ass

This robot is coming to kick your break-dancing ass.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Brainstorming Resources for Writers at Generator Land

In addition to its ridiculousness, offers some valuable writing resources for writers who need a little brain kickstart.

Character Name Generator
Not only does it provide a name (pulled from census data), but it also provides an occupation and location. Some examples:
  • Benny Davis, fearless mountaineer from Saint Louis
  • Dwight Coppin, lonely drummer from Arlington
  • Amalia Westrick, exhibitionist street vendor from Columbus
TV Show Pitch Generator
Helps you come up with a fairly complete TV Show concept, including cast. While some results a clearly ludicrous there are gems to be found. Some examples:
  • A nun with a heart of gold stalks a zoologist who cries uncontrollably. Stars Mary Tyler Moore and Christopher Lloyd. Genre: Mini-Series
  • A marijuana farmer who can't find happiness reviews bad theater with a pro football player who is accused of a murder. Stars Steven Wright and Marg Helgenberger. Genre: Action
  • A perennial bachelor who can't find happiness competes for a prime job against a rapper who runs a chocolate shop. Stars Chevy Chase and Nancy McKeon. Genre: Sci-Fi
Soap Digest Generator
Looking for a plot twist? Need to keep things fresh in an ongoing story? This might be just what you're looking for. Many of the plot devices were taken from actual soap operas. Some examples:
  • Michael rescues the stalker. Todd warns Malibu in the ladies room. Bradley toys with Lucky.
  • Dylan suggests a wicked plan to Dolf. Jared foils a plot with Chloe at the bonfire party. Kelly questions Baldwin.
  • Brit urges on Olive. Greenlee has a drink and a discussion with Kayle at the farmer's market. Lulu crumples into a whimpering pile at the feet of Bliss.
Subdivision Name Generator
Need a name for your story's location. If it's in the suburbs, this tool will be invaluable. Some examples:
  • Rustling Swan Springs
  • Sandy Quail Bay
  • Golden Brothers Farms
First Name Generator
If you want your characters to have unique first names or you're writing fantasy novels you can get them here with a few clicks. Some examples:
  • Phernix
  • Nalvael
  • Philaver
  • Christaigeal
Newspaper Headline Generator
Want to write a story around a specific event? While some of the "news" generated by this tool is best left for The Onion, you may stumble across a few very interesting situations. Some examples:
  • Brodhead Homecoming Queen Makes Hay About Hunter At Brothel
  • Tar Junction Man Steals Squirrel Secretly
  • Waco Hippie Vandalizes Piano At Crawfish Boil
Horror Movie Title Generator
Need a B-Movie title? You're sure to scare up a few perfectly ridiculous ones here. For example:
  • The Sinister Insane Hiccup of the Undead
  • Beware the Self-Involved Chicken Part VII
  • Attack of the Gruesome Freak from Hell

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Best Free Windows Mobile Apps

There are some great apps for Windows Mobile out there, although you wouldn't know it these days and a lot of them are free. Here's a list of some of the great free apps I've downloaded to my AT&T Tilt. Note: Check out for a huge library of free WM apps.
  • AgileNotes: Great note-taking app.
  • Google Maps: The best mobile mapping app. If you have GPS on your phone it's even better.
  • Klaxon: I simple and effective alarm app.
  • MyTravlr: Surprisingly robust travel companion with weather, international clocks, and more.
  • Opera: The second best mobile browser.
  • Skyfire: The best mobile browser. Includes great social networking features.
  • Viigo: A very full-featured RSS/Podcast client. Amazing it's free.
  • PockeTwit: A full featured, polished Twitter client.

Friday, April 03, 2009 Playlist #1 Playlist #1

Night Windows, Weakerthans
Monty Got A Raw Deal, R.E.M.
Objects Of My Affection, Peter Bjorn and John
Hitchin' A Ride, Green Day
Alex Chilton, The Replacements
I Burn For You, Sting
First Drag Of The Day, Bob Mould
You Made It, Teddy Thompson
Swingin Party, The Replacements
Head Over Heels / Broken (live), Tears for Fears
Femme Fatale, R.E.M.
Don't Lose Touch, Against Me!
Rhthm & Soul, Spoon
Mary Watches Everything, Luka Bloom
Pale Green Stars, Everclear

Monday, March 30, 2009

Turn Google News Into an Obituary Page

Morbid thought, I know, but if you're curious about who's died recently, just go to Google News and search for "dies."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Monday, February 09, 2009

My Job is Easy

Next time you think your job is hard. Make this your desktop background for a few days (click for larger).

Update: You can find the original image and many more at:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

1&1 Hosting Sucks

Back in July of 2007 my site, went down due to a server issue with 1&1 Hosting. The site was down for about 12 hours that time when all was said and done. I lost a bunch of traffic and potential ad clicks/merchandise sales. Well, six months later it's happened again. Since that last outage our traffic has increased 50% meaning now this outage is costing me even more.

Once again a call to their technical support "team" lead me to someone with no information and an accent so thick I had to ask them to repeat everything they said, sometimes three times. In the end they had no information for me other than there's a problem and they're working on it. They will not let me know when it's back up just as they didn't let me know that it was down.

We've already contracted with another host and will be moving the site in a few months. Ultimately all I can do until then is warn anyone looking for a good Web host to stay away from 1&1. Their prices are great and they have some very attractive options, but don't get sucked in, just keep looking.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Taking Notes in the Shower

I've had a decade-long quest to find a good way to take notes in the shower. As I've searched for a solution over the years I've been amazed to find that no one has already come up with a great answer. The good news is I've made progress in my search, thanks to a comment from a Facebook friend.

Other things I've tried, like grease pencils (don't clean up well) and dry erase markers (the "dry" part is obviously a problem) have failed, the main problem being the actual writing tool. Obviously it has to write despite surface moisture and it has to clean up thoroughly. If it gets wet it can't get easily washed away but if it does it can't stain. A tall order I know.

So yesterday I made a Facebook status update regarding my fruitless search and my friend Meg suggested the Crayola® Floating Art Desk, which, while designed for creative toddlers in the tub, also has a "storage" feature that allows it to hang on a wall, giving non-toddlers an adjustable-height writing surface while standing. I found one at Toys R Us for about $10.

The included writing tool happens to be a specially-designed crayon, which while water-resistant, isn't a tremendously accurate writing utensil. However, it gets the job done since I'm not generally jotting down more than a few words at a time.

Oh, one more thing, the Crayola Floating Art Desk is clearly not designed to fit in with an adult bathroom and since we don't have any kids I suspect I'll be explaining things to a few curious guests. I'll be honest, it looks fairly ridiculous. I'm considering making some modifications to it, provided I can do so without completely destroying it. You'll see what I mean in the photos below:

Shower Notes
The unit comes with a crayon storage compartment on either side.
I tried it on the tile, but it fell so I moved it to the glass door. So far so good.
The crayons are retractable. I'm not sure why.
I'll give it a little while before I call this a complete success, but in the meantime I'm feeling better about saving those random brainstorms in the shower.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Straighten Your Office 2007 Learning Curve

If you've recently switched to Office 2007 (as I have), I strongly urge you to immediately go download and install Microsoft's "Search Commands" toolbar (or "ribbon" in the new vernacular).

The hardest part about making the switch to Office 2007 is trying to find the commands you're used to using regularly. While I think the new Office ribbon is very cool, it also takes some time to warm up to it. The Search Commands ribbon speeds the process by providing a way to quickly search for a command and then use it (see below).

Read more about the Search Commands Toolbar in Microsystems' Word Tips and Tricks.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Best Way to Reduce Traffic Congestion and Accidents

By promoting telecommuting and providing incentives to companies with formal telecommuting programs, the government would reduce the number of cars on the road, the "trickle down" being:
  • Reduced traffic congestion
  • More productive man hours
  • Reduced fuel consumption
  • Reduced road accidents
  • Reduced air pollution
  • Reduced wear on roads
Some facts from a 2005 article by Longge Gao in the SAM Advanced Management Journal:

"Telecommuting can have positive efforts on society. One is helping alleviate the number of vehicles on the road (Harpaz, 2002) and, consequently, the amount of pollution and oil consumption (Mills, Wong-Ellison, Werner, and Clay (2001). Other societal benefits include less noise pollution, less potential for accidents, less strain on the public transportation system, and an increased ability by organizations to hire employees with special needs (Harpaz, 2002)."

There are, of course positives and negatives to telecommuting both for employees and their employers. These issues are well documented. But by asking businesses to consider it and helping them make it happen if it's a good fit, the government would be making a great step forward.

Fortunately it appears President Obama will be looking to "expand flexible work arrangements" including telecommuting. Here's hoping he follows through.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Chuckles, Marketing, and Aliens

I just polished off a package of Chuckles jelly candies from the vending machine in our office and a few thoughts occurred to me:
  • The flavors in Chuckles have never changed.
  • I have never, in my life seen any advertising or marketing for Chuckles.
  • I don't even know who the hell makes Chuckles. Is there a Web site?
The Flavors
In case you're curious, the official name of the five Chuckles flavors are: Cherry, Lime, Lemon, Licorice, and zesty Orange. As far as I know these have always been the flavors. They were introduced in 1921 and they haven't even CONSIDERED adding or changing the flavor, not even the black one in the middle that most people don't like. That's confidence! That's chutzpah! At some point wouldn't you expect a dude in marketing to come up and say "Hey, coconut's big this year, why don't we try out a Pina Colada Chuckle?" My guess is someone did and he was fired on the spot.

Marketing and Advertising

I assume that the people that make Chuckles have a marketing department. But I may be wrong. For all I know they're made by aliens. In any event, I know for a fact that I have never seen any consumer advertising for Chuckles. Have you? Yet I have eaten Chuckles throughout most of my life. They just seem to show up and periodically I buy them. I assume they are being marketed heavily to candy dealers. If not I can only assume they are indeed made by aliens and they're being beamed down to Earth without us even noticing.

OK, It's Not Aliens

Chuckles are actually made by Farley & Sathers and they do indeed have a Web site. The Web site is as retro as the packaging although while the packaging appears straight out of the sixties, the site merely seems straight out of the 80's. Farley & Sathers also manufacture other similarly semi-famous candy like Now & Later, Rain-Blo, Trolli, and Fruit Stripe (that's right!) I think I've actually seen a Fruit Stripe ad but other than a terrific product placement in Ferris Beuhler's Day Off for Trolli Gummy Bears, I think that's about it. Wait, maybe that was Haribo Gummy Bears. Someone should do a comparison.

Anyway, I think the reason that all this struck me me is that I was thinking how nice it must be to have a product that succeeds for over 80 years despite an utter lack of innovation, marketing, and style. Chuckles just show up. Hey, maybe that could be their tagline!

I seem to have a Chuckle left. Does anyone want the black one?