Friday, August 25, 2006

Gazebo

For those living with their heads buried in the sand, this month witnessed the 2006 Apple WWDC and the unveiling during Steve Job's keynote of Mac OS Leopard. Now during the keynote, one of the really cool Leopard features Steve unveiled was the Dashboard Webclip Widget, which allows users to make a dashboard widget out of any section of a web page. The example used during the live demo was the creation of an automatically updating daily dilbert comic widget.

I used to check dilbert.com religiously, but stopped somewhere along the line--probably after my hard drive got nuked for the third or fourth time and I lost all my firefox bookmarks yet again. But that little snippet of the keynote got me checking the site again.

Now on a seemingly unrelated note, I was recently reminded of the funniest gaming cartoon ever -- the Knights of the Dinner Table Gazebo encounter -- by a Knights of the Dinner Table comic in the back of a friend's car. Fast forward a few weeks, and I suddenly have the urge to check on the web for Knights of the Dinner Table comics and lo and behold: the gazebo in flash animated glory. Oh, and there's lots of other funny ones :). Enjoy.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Starbucks versus McDonalds

Here's an interesting graphic on the growth (over time and geographically) of Starbucks and McDonalds.

It really surprised me that Starbucks doesn't have more sales--what with one of the funniest Onion articles ever being a gag on the Borg-like expansion of Starbucks. This article was eight years ago too (how I remember it I have no idea). If they were expanding so fast to be noteworthy back then, how do they only have 6700 stores world wide? Seems bizarre to me. Or maybe they just aren't counting all the franchises inside bathrooms...

Software Development Blog

Found this blog on digg.com. The entry that especially interested me was the entry on personality trates of good software developers (especially his assertion that the best software developers are 28 times more productive than the worst--a fact that quickly becomes not very suprising at all after doing any work in the field).

Anyway, personal goal: read more of this guy's stuff.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Commute by Bike

I've recently heard some commute horror stories, which always remind me how lucky I am to be able to bike to work (and sometimes I definitely need reminding, given just how much I pay in rent for that priviledge). One of my coworkers has a 2 hour commute (each way). Another is thinking above moving a bit further west since rent is steadily climbing here in Reston, but might be looking at a 30 minute commute depending on traffic.

So here's my commute statistics for comparison:

2.43 miles
15.15 minutes
9.62 average speed

Throw in the added exercise and subtract expenses for gas, and you've got yourself a pretty sweet deal.

Oh, and speaking of expenses reminded me of the other reason I recently patted myself on the back for bike commuting. Virginia and Maryland have pretty strict vehicle inspection and emissions standards, so when Jason moved up here he had to get his ride inspected. Apparently they didn't appreciate a few rusty holes in the exhaust system, so there's a $700+ repair right there.

Virginia DMV

I wrote the following post on 3/27/2006, however at the time I never actually finished and published it. Well, the saga is still continuing (believe it or not) and I figure I should finally publish this old post and then give an update:
So this weekend I finally decided that I'd procrastinated long enough and needed to go out and get my VA driver's license. According to the eligibility rules new residents are supposed to get their license transferred within 60 days of moving... oops. Of course without a car it's tough enough to force myself to get up at 8am on a Saturday morning for a 7 mile bike ride up to the DMV office (they close 12pm on Saturday, but 5pm on weekdays, which really doesn't give me enough time after work to make it up there).

So last weekend I gathered up all the documents I needed, planned my route, and set out...

Only to get half way and be stopped by a bike path which sort of petered out into a wooded area beside a massive 6 or so lane highway. I even used Google satilite images to check out the route a bit ahead of time. Of course, I learned in retrospect that what looks like a tiny brown smudge when you're viewing from space can turn out to be a giant ditch that's a real pain to haul your bike over.

On the bright side though, Google maps does a pretty cool job of letting you look for alternate routes. The maps are much clearer than MapQuest and you can even sometimes make out where the bike paths are. As far as I can tell there aren't any convenient bus routes up that way either. Ahh well.. I'll just have to try again next week.
So a few weeks after the above post, I actually did find another route which actually worked out very well. It turns out that the Washington and Old Dominion Trail is an excellent resource for bikers. It passes right through Reston, as well as through a number of other towns in the area. Using that I was easily able to Sterling and the DMV office (100 Free Ct., Sterling, VA 20164).

Finally! I had my license......

Until I realized that the receptionist had misspelled my address.......

And made a typo on my birth date!

So soon I've got to haul myself back out there, stand in the crazy-long line, and get the darn thing fixed. Oh joy.

Caylus and El Grande

Finally -- after months of waiting for Rio Grande Games' inane shipping schedule which seems to take popular games in and out of print in long half year cycles -- I got my hands on both Caylus and El Grande from TimeWellSpent.org.

From what I've read about TimeWellSpent and from the one order that I've made with them, I'm definitely impressed. They're not only a family owned business, but they're a family of gamers! The prices are very competitive (and often way better than the really big name online distributor for euro-style games funagain.com). So I'm more than happy to support them.

I've finished two plays of Caylus (both with only two players--but one of the great things about Caylus its excellent scalability from as few as 2 players to as many as 5). I haven't gotten to play El Grande yet (again mostly because it really requires at least 3) but I hope to rectify that on Monday when our bi-weekly Metron game night starts up again after a rather lengthy summer hiatus.

Unfortunetly I'm not very good at remembering enough of games to write very good session reports--something I'll work on--but suffice to say both games of Caylus so far were a blast and I look forward to playing with more people.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

aolstalker.com

AOL thought to do the research community a favor by releasing the search records of about 650,000 members—a total of 36,389,629 individual searches—to the public. Funny, you'd think that if they had actually looked at the sorts of stuff people search for they would have realized that there are alot of creepy people on the internet... creepy people who are going to use the data to create amazingly popular internet pop culture icons like aolstalker.com.

There's a full story about it here along with 7 catagories of internet users which the author came up with by sifting through the data. Sort of reminiscent of the classic Timmy Johny Spike article for you Magic players out there.

Anyway—now's probably a good time to remind yourself that everything you do in the internet and everywhere you go is cached on about 20 servers around the world, so you're really better off just unplugging everything and hiding in a downstairs basment (remember to stay away from glass windows!)