Apr 30, 2010

Apple talks Flash and Jersey Principal bans Facebook at home

Yesterday, Steve Jobs posted an "open" letter regarding his (er, Apple's) position on Flash.  While the article (here: Apple Article) is very thought-out and well-articulated, I think there is at least one point he tries to make that falls way short of be forthcoming: openness.  He talks about how Flash is closed but that Apple is open.  Maybe it's just me, but any system that requires an "approval process" for applications to be developed for it does *not* qualify as "open."

You may or may not have heard about various apps for the iPhone family that have been denied.  Most famously is the one showing political cartoons.  Of course, once the creator of those cartoons was given an award, Apple changed it's mind.  Still, there are apps for sexual positions that are freely available by searching for "education."  Yes, do a search for educational tools, and what do you find? Sex.  Ridiculous.  At the same time, however, hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of apps have been denied by Apple.  Do a Google search for things like "Rejected iPhone Apps" or "Apple rejected my app" and you'll find far too many examples of the Gestapo that is Apple.

Mr. Jobs, you have some very legitimate arguments for not using Flash.  But, watch the finger-pointing and quit taking lessons from the Clinton Dictionary of Common Terminology.

Also yesterday, I was pointed toward a  New Jersey Article which reports that a principal is telling his parents they should ban their kids from Facebook, Twitter, and all other social networking sites... AT HOME!  Are you kidding me with this!?  What I allow my child to do or not do AT HOME is not the business of anyone other than law enforcement or child protective services.  No, I do not do anything that would warrant either of those, but that's my point.  If I allow my children to communicate through Facebook, Twitter, etc, then that is my right and my choice as my child's parent. 

The main reason for this outrageous request is to "keep them safe."  Bull-ony.  This is like saying kids should stay off the playground because they might fall off the slide, or get hit with a swing, or maybe trip and fall while walking.  As parents of a student that uses Facebook, I can tell you what we do.  We watch our child's posts.  We also talk to and educate our child when he posts something he shouldn't or joins some dumb group.  The point is - we EDUCATE him. 

Do tell our children they cannot go outside and play?  No, we EDUCATE them on the dangers: passing cars, stray dogs, random strangers.  We teach them to play in the yard.  We teach them not to run into the street between two parked cars.  Do they always listen?  Of course not.  But, with each mistake, a lesson is learned.  When I was a child, I *did* run out between two parked cars.  I nearly got run over.  It scared the crud out of me and to this day, I will look both ways more than any normal human does.  Did I burn myself on the stove when I was kid? Of course.  What did I learn? The stove was HOT!  Did I cut myself with a shaving razor when I was young?  Yeap.  What did I learn? Razor blades are sharp, and I should be careful.

Watching our children online is no different.  Banning them from social media is not the answer.  The answer is to EDUCATE the students, the parents, the community.  Teach them how to use Facebook and Twitter (and whatever other social networks come down the line) responsibly and effectively.  We protect our children as best we can, and much of that comes through educating them.  Sometimes, that education comes from life's experiences.

As Dory in Finding Nemo said, "Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him."

Apr 27, 2010

American Idol - Six-Pack

And so, we are down to six contestants. Let's see how well (or more likely how poorly) some of these folks do this week.

WOW! Shania Twain mentors!! Now, that's worth sticking around for.


Lee - "Still the One" - He sounds a little like John Mayer at the start. Nice mixup of the song. Not bad, actually. I guess that'll do to start the show.

Michael - "It only hurts" - Man, what a great R&B spin on the song! I might actually download this one. Very well done!

Casey - "Don't" - I wasn't into when he started, but as he went along, I let it grow on me. This might be worth having, too.

Crystal - "No one needs to know" - Hmm. This is the first karaoke-sounding song of the night. The backup vocals are off or something, too. I think she was shooting for folksy and missed by 'that much.'

Aaron - "You got a way" - Not too bad. Nothing exciting. Meh.

Siobhan - "Any man of mine" - Uh, is this the showtunes version? Shan wondered if she was doing a Madonna-ish version. There is no "attitude" here. Wow, yeah, she's gone. Welcome to "Shania the Musical"

Apr 26, 2010

A parody - I need a floppy now

Sony announced that in 2011, it would stop making/selling floppy disks.  In honor of their demise, I wrote a little ditty.

To the tune "Need You Now" (Lady Antebellum)

Pictures on my floppies
Scattered all around the floor.
Reaching for the holder,
disks just dont belong anymore.

And I wonder if I'll ever re-install
Windows for Workgroups three-one-one

They charge a quarter just for one,
Sony says they're done, but I need one now.
Said I'd back them up, but floppies aren't for sale
and I need one now.
And I don't know how I can do without,
I need a floppy now.

Another ruined floppy
Cover got jammed in the door.
Wishing I had transferred all my files long before.

And I wonder if I'll ever re-install
Novell Netware two point, oh the time.

They charge a quarter just for one,
I put 'em in the trunk and I need one now.
Said I'd back 'em up, but floppies aren't for sale
and I need one now.
And I don't know how I can do without,
I need a floppy now.

Yes I'd rather use disks than nothing at all.

I had a holder full of some,
but Sony's gone and done killed floppy now.
I even tried to call,
But Sony just hung up and I need one now.
And I don't know how I can do without,
I need a floppy now.
Mavica is useless now.
Oh Sony, I need one now.

Tagxedo - Talk about service!

Well, holy smokes!  In my previous post (HERE), I plugged one of my new favorite tools (Tagxedo), lamenting the lack of support for numbers.  In no time flat, Hardy Leung - the site's owner/creator, responded with a comment letting me know that a NUMBERS feature is now available!  In addition, he has added some other cool features worth checking out:
  • numbers, 
  • punctuations, 
  • stemming, (words similar to those you type for weighting)
  • stop words (words you do NOT want to include in the count)
  • a feature to SAVE you word list
  • other things I have yet to discover, perhaps!
I have to say, this is wonderfully amazing news.  Why so?  Because, unlike the big blue-and-white site that turned off its "fans" recently, Tagxedo actually listened to his users and made changes accordingly!

Thanks and KUDOS to Mr. Leung!

Apr 24, 2010

Tagxedo - Cool, but numberless

www.tagxedo.com is home to one of the coolest tag cloud generators I have seen yet.  The site allows you to create word clouds by typing in a list of words, providing a URL, or by uploading a text file with a list of items.  It ignores common words or very small words (note the lack of "My" in the cloud above).  The other issue is that it lacks support for numbers.  That may not sound like a big deal, but you won't be making clouds for graduation, reunions, child birthdays, anniversaries, etc any time soon.

The site's owner and creator says that numbers will be available in a future iteration of the site.  If someone happens to know some "trick" to display numbers, feel free to share and I'll pass it along.  I figure it's a feature that many folks would like to have.

I've read other reviews of the site that made suggestions like frames, etc.  I guess I don't see that as a big deal.  I don't really care if my cloud has a frame around it.  Then again, I am generally simple-minded, so there ya go. 

I like the fact that you can actually choose shapes for your cloud, and you can even upload your own picture and make a shape out of it!  Sweet!  I'm looking forward to the growth and development of the site!  Check it out for sure next time you want to play with your words.

Apr 22, 2010

What are we up to?

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and noticed items that are out of place?  You know, someone decides they don't really want that peanut butter, so they put it back where they happen to be standing - at the cookies. 

As a twisted hobby, I like to take pictures of misplaced items.  I think they also happen to make great writing prompts for those times I need a little boost in the creativity department.

here are a couple examples taken recently:

Above: Triple Cherry Fruit Mix in the crackers.

Above: Little Debbie Donut Sticks on the peanut butter cracker shelf.

Your challenge is to choose either picture (or both if you are adventurous)  and leave a comment with the story (stories) you created based on the photo(s).  Go wild! Have fun!

Apr 21, 2010

40 Things, or maybe just 13...

Last year, I turned 40.  As a tribute of sorts, I had set out to write 40 blog posts about "40 things" in my life.  I came close.  I managed to write 13 posts highlighting 40 different topics.  You can check those out HERE.

I thought for sure I could hammer out 40 different topics throughout the year, but it was not to be.  I read one time that the key to blogging is passion.  Without a passion for your blog's focus or a passion for writing in general, one's blog will perish, wilting away without the water of creativity.  In my case, it was a combination of laziness and the lack of actually finding topics that I could rattle off "40 things" regarding.  Evidently, I'm more of a "21 things" kinda guy.  Does mean I peaked at age 21?  You don't have to answer that.  Really.

Skillet Apple Pie

For my birthday, which was Tuesday, Shan made Iron Skillet Apple Pie!  This is one of my all-time favorite desserts!  After it is cooked, scoop out a hefty helping and drop it onto a plate or into a bowl.  Serve with vanilla ice cream. Repeat until you are sick as a dog on a hot summer afternoon!  Seriously.  Eat it up!!

I've had LOTS of requests for the recipe, so I snuck into the kitchen and found it.  Don't tell Shan!

Skillet Apple Pie

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter or margerine
4 green apples sliced thin
1 cup white sugar
2 pie crusts
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees (F).  Melt butter and brown sugar in 8" iron skillet.  Place one pie crust over the butter and brown sugar after it melts.  Place the apples on top of the crust.  Sprinkle the cup of white sugar on top of the apples and sprinkle the cinnamon over the sugar.  Put the other crust on top.   Cook in a 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the crusts are very brown.  Suggested serving includes a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

Apr 19, 2010

Waitin' on my karma - a parody

To the tune of "Waitin' on a Woman" by Brad Paisley:

Sittin' online at Plurk dot com
He plurked me, I do recall, and asked me
"You waitin' on your karma?"
I replied yeah and then "How 'bout you?"
He said, "Son since it hit about fifty-two I've been
Waitin on my karma."

When I logged on first, it was great
I stayed up every night so late
And I looked down and stared, karma's thirty
Plurk said, "I'm sorry that it takes so long
You have to post from dusk til dawn."
But let me tell you son, it ain't that pretty
Yeah, you'll spend your time, and lose your mind
Waiting on your karma.

He said, "My timeline took a year to plan
You talk about an anxious man, I was nervous
waitin' on my karma."
And then he nudged the screen like chatters do
And said, "I'll say this about the smileys too, it was worth it
Waiting on the karma."

And I don't guess I go nowhere
'Cause my karma falls when I'm not there
Sometimes it does it just 'cause it can do it
Boy it's just a fact of life
It'll be the same on your timeline
Might as well go on and get used to it
It'll take it's time, and you'll lose your mind
Waitin' on your karma

I've read somewhere statistics show
it falls faster, the higher it goes
And that don't make sense 'cause I know I won't be ready
So when it finally comes my time
And 100 karma's on my timeline
I'll find myself the freeze, and keep it steady
I know it takes some time, please don't lose your mind
Waitin' on your karma

Plurkers, take your time, don't lose your mind
Waitin on your karma...

Playing Oprah

Today, I worked with John, teaching teachers about various uses of technology in the classroom.  We talked about lulu.com for helping students become published authors, delicious.com for keeping track of web sites, polleverywhere.com for asking questions where students text responses.

We also shared several tools with another group of teachers.  Afterward, I told that group that it would be difficult to implement those strategies with out the proper tools or supplies.  And then, I announced that we were giving them some of those tools.  It was amazing.

People jumped out of their chairs.  One teacher had tears running down her face.  Everyone clapped and cheered, genuinely excited and appreciative of the items they were getting.

I used to think Oprah gave away all those things as a demonstration of her own money or power, but I fully understand now the rush she must feel everytime she gives things away.

If I had the means, I'd do the same thing.  The blessing truly is in the giving.

What is in my short story collection, anyway?

I am often asked to describe the stories included in "All This Digging and other Stories."  Until yesterday, though, no one asked me that online.  It had not occurred to me to write out such information because each of the distribution systems (Lulu.com, Kindle, Smashwords) provides a sampling or preview.

So, when I was asked what each story was about (on Plurk, which only allows for 140 characters per post), I came up with a list with succinct descriptions.  I thought I'd share them with you:

HERO - a dreamer gets his chance to fulfill his dream
WATER - How bad could a shower be?
ALL THIS DIGGING - An elderly man has had enough
BLINDED - An accident causes a drunk driver to go blind
THE DATE - a teenager finally gets the date he's wanted
FORGIVEN - What about those two guys hanging beside Jesus?
INTERVIEW - How honest do you have to be?
PURPLE HAZE - Based on a recurring dream I used to have.
STUPID ALARM CLOCK - basically, self-explanatory (LOL)
SWITCHEROO - Two boys steal a magazine from a bookstore, or do they?
DISHWASHERS - An elderly couple share a chore

Thanks for reading!

Apr 18, 2010

Going Digital!

I have published my collection of short stories, "All This Digging and other Stories" in eBook formats!

The first approach I took was to publish it on Amazon for the Kindle reader. It works on Kindle devices, iPod Touches, iPhones, iPad, other mobile devices, and the PC and Mac Kindle Reader applications. That version is HERE. After downloading it to my iPod Touch, I can see that some of the tags I was told to use do not work - mainly the "forced pagebreak" ones. So, it has some cosmetic issues. UGH! Oh well, those can be fixed!

The next thing I did was poke around online to look for ways to have my book available in a variety of ePublications. After a little digging of my own, I came across an all-in-one stop shop called Smashwords. It took me a couple tries before my book met their formatting specifications (which I'm not sure I even followed correctly, and need to check that out), but eventually I was approved! What's nice about this method is that Smashwords provides links for all kinds of electronic readers! Just download the file (for $1.99) and transfer to your reader! Way cool! The page for that is HERE!

Apr 17, 2010

Blogging from the droid

This is my first mobile post. I am using the BLOGAWAY app on my Droid.  We'll see how well this works. As for the plans today, I am working with John to teach teachers some technology 'stuff.'

Apr 14, 2010

Idol Spolier

This is American Idol and we're cutting the group from nine to seven. Let's do it!

DO NOT read any further if you do not want to know who gets the boot this week!

Okay, here we go....

Casey - SAFE
Aaron - SAFE
Andrew - GONE - It is about time. Sorry, but that was LONG overdue.

Hey! It's Brooke White!! WAHOO!!

Crystal - SAFE
Siobhan - SAFE - What!? No way! This is not good.
Lee - SAFE

Tim, Michael, Katie - Oh, please do NOT let it be Michael!

Tim - SAFE -

Wow, this is disappointing. I can't believe Katie is eliminated. I was getting to like her.

Well, at least we picked one of the people kicked off…

I think Katie will have a decent first release. Where she goes from there we can only wait and see. I hope she becomes a star. She has the potential for sure!

A Parody: Plurk is Quirky

To the tune "Walking after Midnight" (with liberties and imagination):

Plurk is Quirky
Can not post right
While we're online
Just like we used to do

Plurk's always quirky
No pictures load right
or even youtube

I plurk for hours
And watch my karma
Well there's no harm-a saying I'll plurk you

But Plurk is quirky
And Links don't work right
Searching's broke too

I tried a picture of a willow
or a smiley with a pillow
Maybe plurk's just too quirky

And as updates go by me
No new posts that I see
I'm plurkless as I can be

Oh Plurk is quirky
Can not post right
Can't get online
Just hoping once it won't be

Plurk is quirky
Karma's not right
Not Working for me

I tried posting video
Computer just said "uh, no"
Maybe plurk's too quirky for me
And as updates go by me
karma falls so quickly
I'm plurkless as I can be
So Plurk is quirky
It don't work right
Can't get online
And I'm hoping it may be
Plurk's just quirky
After midnight
It'll start working for me

American Idol - Top Nine (Again)

Michael got saved last week. Let's see if he earned it. And, who will drop out? Of course, TWO people will go home after the voting. Here we go:


Wow, out of all the alumni, they asked Lambert to mentor?? Disgusting. How can he mentor when he hasn't even done anything yet?

Crystal - Man, she is doing great - nice rocking soulful song! Excellent!

Andrew - Wow, can you say Cruise Ship? This is not good at all.

Tim - Shall I stay? As Shan said, "No, I think you'll be going home."

Lee - I actually like this version a lot. He has a very cool voice - a little Springsteen in there.

Aaron - Why would you pick a song you felt was wrong? It's fun, but kinda karaoke. Okay, I like the slow down there! Nice! Wow, I'm very surprised. Well done.

Siobhan - I don't know why she insists on wearing her hair all swept up like that. Ugh. This sounds very Broadway to me or something. I'm not feeling it.

Michael - I've never heard this song before. Michael's version is superb. This is the stuff of moving videos and commercials. This is the kind of performance that would bring tears to the eyes.

Katie - I've been getting to like Katie more and more. I hope she does well. Well, she's wearing something from the Selena Gomez collection, I think. Very nice job! I like this a lot.

Casey - I like the sound of his voice. Sounds a little like Travis Tritt in there. He'll make it safely for sure.

Apr 11, 2010

Ramblings and Goings-On

Well, I know you are just dying to know what I've been up to lately. Let's get to it.

My first novel is finished!  Well, it is finished to the point that I've got some folks looking it over and editing it for me.  Once I get that straightened up, I'll be ready to take the next step and venture forth into the realm of finding someone in the publishing world to take a look at it.  Should that fail, I will turn it loose on Lulu.com and go the self-published route.  Frankly, that has not been quite successful for the short story collection, so I'm hoping to have better luck with the novel.

Having said that, I think I am going to start writing another novel and more short stories as well.  As I have read over and over, many successful writers are those who write prolifically.  I want to turn my writing from "when I'm not at my real job" to it being my "real job!"

I have been on a kick, a mission as it were, to find this one song I remember hearing in clubs in the late 80's/early 90's.  The song I am thinking of is instrumental (so far as I can remember).  I found "Blue Monday" by New Order and remembered that song was often played near the "Railroad Crossing" song (as I've come to call it).  For some reason, I had associated words with the song, and ended up finding "Policy of Truth" by Depeche Mode.  As soon as I heard it, though, I knew that was not correct either.  And so, the quest continues.  One day I will find the song. I will!

Any DJ's or club music lovers that happen by are welcome to chime in. This would be around 1988-1990. The song has a dance beat and is mixed in with a slow railroad crossing bell sound. 

Apr 7, 2010

Idol SHOCKER (Major spoiler alert!)

Tonight was a HUGE shocker in Idol-land.  If you don't wanna know what happened, then leave now...

You've been warned...

Siobhan - SAFE - Wow. I figured she was bottom three.
Crystal - SAFE - No brainer there!!
Katie - SAFE - Emily is excited!

Lee - SAFE - UGH
Casey - SAFE - UGH
Tim - SAFE - UGH

Bottom Three:
Andrew - SAFE - What!?!? This cannot be right!
Aaron - SAFE - That's good news, but I cannot believe Mike is bottom two!!
Michael - HOLY CRAP!

I cannot believe Michael is facing elimination! Surely he will be saved.  WHEW! They used the save!  That is fantastic! Now let's hope he carries through to prove he needs to stay.

Top Nine Idol-ers perform. It's Beatles Week.

Call it McCartney/Lennon week or whatever. It's Beatles week...
Tuesday's Idol Thoughts:


Aaron - Wow. Very well done, at least in my opinion. That could play on the radio and I'd listen.

Katie - Pretty good, but I think if she stepped it up just a hair, it would have been even better. Nice job though. I do agree with Simon that it had some country sounds to it.

Andrew - Wow, this is like bad karaoke, dog. Can you saw Vegas lounge much? Or maybe a cruise ship. I dunno, man, I just don't get it.

Michael - I really liked his version of the song. Nice mix up of "Eleanor Rigby!"

Crystal - "Come Together" - Oh, this is one of the few Beatles songs I actually like. Let's see how she does. Oh, this is great! Nice groove, great feel! Best performance tonight so far!!

Teflon Tim - Started bad, had okay moments, but really, not great.

Casey - He sounds like like he's trying to add an English accent to it or something. He should just sing it. Shan says Yes, she likes his voice even though the song is too slow.

Siobhan - Ouch. Not sounding too good here. Again, slow. Is this like opera or something?

Lee - Hmm. Okay, well, he's changing it up some. I don't think it's great. It's not the worst one of the night, but sounded like he was doing Beatles Rock Band. Okay, bust out the bagpipes.

Apr 5, 2010

Daily Photo (Something Blue)

Today's challenge - photograph something blue and what it means to you.  That was easy!  I've got my Indians shirt on (one of many) and it means OPENING DAY!! Wahoo!!  Granted, the Tribe played in Chi versus the White Sox, but still, hey, it *WAS* opening day for the boys in red, white and blue!!*

*Yeah, yeah, we lost. 

Apr 3, 2010

Daily Photo (Made of paper)

Today's DailyShoot challenge is something made of paper.  What you see is a photo of my novel in progress.  Though I love technology and the thought of things going "mostly paperless," I must confess that having some things on paper makes sense.  In my case, editing my 150+ page novel comes easier to me when I can hold the pages, refer to a variety of scenes, characters, etc simply by laying out the pages around me.  While most word processors allow you to do the same thing, because of the physical limitation of screen size and resolution, trying to look at 4 pages at the same time on a screen is ludicrous.  Oh, perhaps if I had two or three 32-inch monitors or something, but even that seems more than a bit impractical.

Also, take a look at the notes in the margins.  That is not easily achieved electronically, and though many word processors support "inking," editing a document with inking attached is no walk in park.  At least, not for me.  And so, I print my work at least once - to hold it, to edit it, to give myself the tangibility of it.

Apr 1, 2010

Google does April Fools

I was told the "time for results" feature had been changed on Google for today. So, I did a search for "Shakes of a lamb's tail" and sure enough, my results came up in "2.00 Shakes of a lamb's tail!" Great stuff:
Also, you may notice that Google took a cue from the Kansas city that really, really wants Google to bring high-speed internet to their town: