I've been meaning to write a post about all the stupid articles and references to a couple people that have tossed their Wii controllers so hard it broke their television. I've been playing about 30 minutes a day for the past week and having a controller slip out of your hand just seemed ridiculous. I was so confident in this assertion that I took the leash out of the remote when I first set it up. I noticed a bunch of blogs linking to the broken TV stories and the press seemed to glom onto it because it's a funny new angle they can deflate the Wii hype with. You'd have to be a total spazz to not only need the leash but also break it, and then break your TV too.
Blogs and newspapers both love to do this: find a silly outlier story to discredit/attack/mock a new trend. The "you'll hurt each other playing a Wii" and "you'll break your TV!" stories definitely fill the bill and allow a pundit or blogger to scoff at anything interesting, new, or innovative in something like the Wii and just make jokes about it. I'd also say jokes about the Zune coming in brown or Microsoft employees calling file transfers "squirting" is doing the same thing to the Zune: overshadowing the actual innovative feature that lets you share songs with random people nearby (I'll never own a Zune but I wish my iPods could do that).
Anyway, this is just a long way of saying last night I was playing the training part of the Sports disc, where you can bowl with up to 96 pins. You have to throw the ball as hard as you can, and while doing this the controller slid clear out of my hand. It banked off the fireplace in front of me with so much force that it bounced directly up into the ceiling where it hit hard and bounced back down. It missed the TV above the fireplace by a couple of inches.
So I guess the moral of the story is you should really use those little leash things and I'm a bigger spazz than I thought.
When you think about it, "free range chicken broth" never stops being funny. It's like a Far Side cartoon that was never drawn but can easily be imagined.
After working on my own for a year, this past summer I finally got around to examining my finances. I did what most people do: I got a copy of the latest Quicken, spent a week entering data into it, and then I stared at graphs wondering how on earth my spending always seemed to go up when my income went up, even though it didn't feel like I was going on new shopping sprees.
I quickly found Quicken to be a bear. The category system is a pain, and every charge can only have one category attached. Making new categories and arranging subcategories would frequently crash Quicken 2007 for the Mac, making me lose work in the process. Like every other time I've tried to use some piece of financial software, I eventually gave up.
About a month ago, I started using the Wesabe beta (co-founder Marc Hedlund is a friend of a friend). The app has lofty aim of helping you track spending, realize your goals, and share tips with everyone. There are also social effects, where people using the same merchant can post reviews, allowing you to surf around for a new mechanic or grocery store based on other members' satisfaction and spending.
For me, the main draw was simply having a powerful web version of something like Quicken, but flexible like flickr or delicious. Instead of categories, there are tags. And you can put any number of tags on something, and sort spending per tag. This is a really big breakthrough. A few things I discovered from doing this:
The app is still new, and about the only drawbacks I've found is that the history reporting and graphing doesn't feel completely built out yet (and I've heard lots more is to come in that realm). I'm used to Quicken's graph magic and Measuremap and Google Analytics where you can click on any bar graph and figure out what exactly caused a spike. At the moment, the bar graphs simply report your patterns in spending but lack any sort of "zoom" feature to get more detail.
It didn't take long for me to fall in love with Wesabe. At every point where Quicken stood in the way of my progress with ease-of-use roadblocks, Wesabe makes it painless. Now that it's open to the public, the Tips and Goals sections might get built out more and the social aspects will kick in, but at the very least, the accounting section of the app is truly killer and helping me finally get a handle on my spending.
Wesabe (free, probably paid pro options in the future)
Everyone I know seems to want to score a Wii on launch day, and most are betting on second tier outlets to get one. I agree and think that the world will line up at Walmarts, Targets, and BestBuys around the country so the secret is to find another option that is big enough to get Wiis on launch day, but also not so big that anyone would notice. This could be a local mom & pop store, a non-franchise video game store, or that seedy Kmart in the bad part of town.
I tested this theory out by visiting my local Fred Meyer. If you're in the Pacific Northwest and near any major city, chances are you are surrounded by Fred Meyers. I don't think I'll hurt my chances by sharing that they're open from 12:01am-1am this Saturday night and my local one has 75 Wii consoles ready to go. That's a lot of boxes, right up there with what most BestBuy stores will get and about double what any Target store is getting near me.
I've been using flickr on a daily basis for over two years. Today I followed a link from someone's blog and landed on a page I've never seen before, and it rocked. It's simple, but I didn't have any idea it existed. It's the "detail view" of photosets, which is so much more useful for getting the gist of a gallery that I wonder why it's not the default view.
Don't know what I'm talking about? Check this out: Early this past spring I built a deck, and I made a gallery about that, so compare:
See how much easier the detail view is? No more squinting at little thumbnails, you can instantly scan everything in a set without having to click on anything. Just add "/detail/" to your flickr set links when sharing a gallery. Your readers will thank you.
Lifehacker just posted a travel tip on picking seats most likely to stay empty at the time you buy your ticket, but I've found I only keep an empty seat next to me about a quarter of the time using that method. There's a much more successful way to get what you want and I find it works about three quarters of the time.
When you arrive at the airport, make a beeline for the electronic check-in kiosk and skip the humans if you have a choice. When checking in via kiosk, be sure to hit the Change Seats option. Then do what the lifehacker post says, which is select an aisle or row seat with an empty middle next to it.
The chances that someone buys the middle seat after you reserved your ticket weeks ago is much higher than the chances that someone selects that middle seat in the last hour or two before your flight. Of course, this works only on non-full flights that don't happen during holiday season. I'd say on average weekday flights I almost always get an empty seat next to me and it's only on end-of-weekend return flights with tons of standby passengers that I don't get the extra space.
I have voted in very race since 1990, back when I turned 18, but this is the first year where almost everything I voted for won. Even local races went the way I wanted, and across the country races fell as I wished.
I can't begin to describe how happy I am that Rick Santorum is out of the Senate now.
From Wikipedia's entry on Con men and popular cons:
Stolen Cheques. A recent twist on the Nigerian fraud scheme, the mark is told he is helping someone overseas collect "debts" from corporate clients. Large cheques stolen from businesses are mailed to the mark. These cheques are altered to reflect the mark's name, and the mark is then asked to cash them and transfer all but a percentage of the funds (his commission) to the con artist. The cheques are often completely genuine, except that the "pay to" information has been expertly changed. This exposes the mark not only to enormous debt when the bank reclaims the money from his or her account, but also to criminal charges for money laundering. A more modern variation is to use laser-printed counterfeit checks with the proper account numbers and payer information.
I got a Mac Pro yesterday and the first thing I wanted to do after it was setup was to install Windows in Parallels, so I could test out my sites in IE/Win. I started on windows over ten years ago and only started migrating to the mac in 2002. About six months ago I finally retired the PC on my desktop but I've missed having it around for the occasional site test in IE.
I decided to install Vista first to get IE7 and see what the state-of-the-art in Windows was like (I'll also install XP and keep it at IE6 later on). After everything was installed, I needed to download a text editor to change a few files on the windows box and that's when I started getting frustrated by all the "safety features" inherent in Vista.
The following is a paraphrasing of the OS system alerts I was bombarded with as I tried to accomplish my simple task (if it sounds anything like this, it's because it felt the same way):
Is there an "expert mode" in Vista I can set so I'm not treated like this is my first computer the next time I use it?