Monday, February 28, 2011

Full Sail University Calls Me

I got a call recently from Full Sail University, which is a private university specializing in degrees related to the entertainment field. I saw this as a prime opportunity to use a shtick where I pretend to be a man afflicted with a speech impediment who can only sing in order to communicate. I kept the rep from Full Sail University on the phone for about five minutes before becoming bored with the call. Thankfully, I found a creative way to end it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Sat Through Justin Bieber's Movie

I love my daughter and there's very little that I would not do for her. When she asked me to take her to see Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, however, I couldn't help but feel deep pangs of anxiety. I'm not fond of this Justin Bieber kid. I don't like his music, I don't like how he looks and I don't want to catch him walking on my lawn. Still, the kiddo is a big fan, and, wanting to make her happy, I swallowed all pretensions and ponied up the money for two tickets. And you know what? As a documentary, it's really not that bad.

Even though I'm not a fan of his bubble-gum pop music, I found aspects of Never Say Never to be very interesting. Say what you will about his hair or his music, but Justin Bieber has talent. Though I'm not thrilled by how he has chosen to express that talent, I am impressed by the support team that stands behind that kid. In particular, I was impressed at how big a role social media like Youtube and Twitter played in skyrocketing Justin Bieber to fame. Also, it's nice to see that everyone involved recognizes that it took hard work and dedicated fans to get Justin Bieber to where he is today. Even though I'm far from a fan, I figure I can appreciate any popular teen act that has achieved fame via his/her own merits rather than being manufactured by Disney or Nickelodeon. And, if my daughter likes him, he can't be all bad.

All that being said, after the movie, I did feel the need to earn my man card back by playing a few rounds of Call Of Duty: Black Ops, drinking a few beers and watching The Hangover. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Improvisation

I teach a computer skills class two nights a week. The class is half lecture and half hands-on lab work. Before walking into the lab tonight, I was informed by the lab supervisor that eight of the twenty-three machines I needed for class were not working. Okay, not a problem. I figured that I could divide the class into groups and we'd work together to fix the broken computers. It turned out, however, that admin rights to the computer were locked out. Only the lab supervisor could make the necessary changes to fix the computers.

At this point, some fifteen minutes into a two hour class, I could have either dismissed everyone, turned the lab class into a lecture on something abstract like the Higgs Boson or the Wow! Signal, or I could improvise a lab. It was then that I had a flash of brilliance. I told my students to each disconnect a computer from a lab stand and bring it to their desks. "We're going to dissect these beasts" I declared.

I demonstrated how to pop open the chassis of the Dell models we were using and urged my students to follow my example. Sounds of grinding metal gave way to gasps of awe. It was as if each one of them had pulled Excalibur from its stone. We spent the next 45 minutes discussing the various different components of the computer. At one point, I pulled the processor out of its seating below the elaborate cooling system and, in my best Igor voice, I exclaimed "The brain! I have a brain for my master!". The class guffawed at my inanity.

We discussed the issues related with computer cooling and how, as processors become more powerful, heat dissipation becomes more of a challenge. When asked to come up with alternative methods of cooling, one student suggested a water-based cooling system. I liked this idea and thought that we could perhaps drain off the resulting hot water from the system and make coffee from it.

At the end of class, everything was closed up and put back in its place as if nothing had happened. A small part of me was a little worried that we would somehow end up with a few more non-working computers as a result of this exercise. Thankfully, everything booted up normally. As my students left class, I heard one of more disinterested students say to a classmate "Now, THAT was cool".

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pregnant? Get Yourself A Free Belly Bag!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of CryoCell International. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Call Of Duty: Black Ops on the PS3

Playing Call Of Duty: Black Ops on the Wii has been an exercise in futility. I've grown tired of the graphics limitations, weapons limitations and the overall lobotomized nature of the game on the Wii. Out of a genuine desire to stimulate our recovering economy, I went out and bought a PS3 this weekend, and, along with it, a few games, including Call Of Duty: Black Ops.

It took some time for me to get used to using the PS3 controller. The one advantage the Wii has over the PS3 in COD is that the Wii lets you use a gun attachment for your controller. After a few rounds of trying to get used to the interface, I joined a Death Match in multi-player mode. I had expected to get my ass handed to me by a bunch of mouthy 14-year-olds, but was pleasantly surprised at how well I played. I won't be showing up on the leaderboards anytime soon, but I held my own.

Below, you'll find a video of a firefight between me and another player. I took out his partner pretty quick, but had to do a little back and forth in order to take out the second guy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I tried the new Burger King Stuffed Steakhouse burger the other day. I was a little apprehensive because, at glance, it looks like someone flattened a corny turd and slapped it on a bun. Burger King has never disappointed me before, so, I courageously chowed down onto this jalapeno and cheese stuffed burger. For a novelty sandwich, it doesn't taste too bad. It tastes a lot like chili.

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall over at Burger King HQ when the suits were brainstorming ideas about this new burger.

"Team, beef prices are through the roof. How do we make our burgers cheaper?"

"We cut costs by stuffing them full of stuff that's cheaper than beef?"

"Great idea! But we have to do it with stuff we already have. We don't want to buy new ingredients."

"Why don't we mash stuff from the BK Breakfast Bowls into the beef patties? And to really sell it, we'll promote it as a specialty sandwich and charge extra!"

"Brilliant! Give that man a promotion!"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kent State University Gets A Dose Of My Religion

I got a call from Kent State University recently and, upon answering, I told the recruiter that I was Reverend of The Church of the Fifth Wound ("Five Wounds" for short) and that I was hoping to find a college program that would help me expand my pulpit's reach. I made a point of ministering to the poor Kent State University recruiter in between every question she asked. Of course, when I found out that Kent State University was not officially a Christian institution, I had to pray for those poor souls to be saved. The call lasts about five-and-a-half minutes.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Evie Helps You Stay Connected When You're On The Go

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Evie. All opinions are 100% mine.

It's hard to stay connected when you're constantly on the go, especially if much of your travel time has you behind the wheel of a car. And the whole experience can be even worse if you've got an iPhone because there's just no application that can help keep you connected while you're driving. That's where Evie comes in. Evie is a voice-enabled app that lets you control your iPhone with the sound of your voice.

Let's say that you need to make a phone call. Normally, you'd have to pull your car to the side of the road, dial the number, make the call and then wait until it's over before getting back on the road. Thanks to Evie, you can just say the name of anyone in your contact list or say a phone number to call them. No need to pull over, no need to take your hands off the wheel! Want to do a little sight seeing or do you need a restaurant recommendation while you're on the road? No problem! You can find a business or point of interest around you by simply telling Evie what you're looking for. Want to keep up with Facebook? Evie's got you covered there too because Evie will read your Facebook news feed to you.

You don't have to take my word for it. Go and download Evie for yourself and see why it's a great app for moms on the go, traveling sales people, or basically anyone who is constantly driving. If you're looking to make your own drive time easy, then give Evie a try the next time you're in your car.

Dock
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Air Hog Hawkeye Helicopter

My daughter and I both like the Air Hog series of remote control helicopters both for their fun factor and their durability. We've had a lot a fun flying various Havoc Heli models and crashing them into the ground and other structures. Ever since I recorded a video of my Air Hog Havoc Heli harassing my cats, I had been hoping that the Air Hog folks would make an r/c helicopter with a camera embedded.

The Air Hog Hawk Eye is the result. It's just as durable as its brethren, but it's unique design offers a number of flight challenges. For the first few flights, we struggled to get the trim setting right in order to keep the Hawk Eye from spinning during flight. Once we got the hang of flying, however, we had just as good a time with this helicopter as we had with previous models.

If you end up purchinsing the Air Hog Hawkeye, you're going to want to be aware of a few things. First off, it's controlled via infra-red rather than radio waves, so the controller acts much like your TV remote. You've got to be in a line-of-sight for this thing to work. And you need to be close by. Several times, the copter has just gotten out of range and we lost all contact with it (once it ended up on the neighbor's roof! Eeek! Thank God the ice storm pushed it off a few minutes later). Also, there's quite a learning curve to flying. Flying it outside can be a chore, especially in any appreciable wind. Inside, however, the thing handles very well once you get it tuned correctly.

You'll find a video of both an outdoor and an indoor flight. The Air Hog Hawk Eye doesn't record sound along with video, so I've set this video to music.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On Christina Aguilera Flubbing The National Anthem

Even though I was still smarting from the Chicago Bears' devastating playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, I decided to watch The Super Bowl this past weekend. Part of me held on to the slim hope that the Steelers might serve up some humble pie to those cheese heads. Also, I wanted to catch the Motorola Xoom commercial in the hopes that it might reveal some cool Android 3.0 features. I was disappointed in both respects.

Infinitely more disappointing, however, was Christina Aguilera's rendition of our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. When she appeared on stage to sing it, I initially thought that they had gotten Cindi Lauper to sing. I wish it had indeed been Lauper who was singing because she would have done a marginally better job and I guarantee you that she would have known all of the words. Christina Aguilera quickly issued a statement which essentially stated that she had been caught up in the moment and lost her place. Some tabloids have hinted that Aguilera had a bit too much to drink beforehand and her slight tipsiness was the cause of her colossal screw-up. I actually believe Christina Aguilera on this one.

I'm going to sound like an angry old-man for saying this, but the problem began with Whitney Houston's rendition of The Star Spangled Banner during Super Bowl XXV. Instead of leading the crowd, Whitney Houston decided to make the anthem her own by singing it with fancy embellishments that went against the natural rhythm of the song. And it worked; Whitney Houston's version of The Star Spangled Banner became a Top 20 hit. The problem is, every singer who followed has felt the need to ham-bone through the song because they see the gig as an opportunity to showcase themselves. Christina Aguilera was no exception and, in her rush to put out a performance rather than sing the song as it was intended, she messed up.

There's a reason why the lyrics of The Star Spangled Banner were set to the tune of a popular drinking song: because it's easy for a common person to sing and it sounds best when sung by a crowd. Any singer, regardless of their level of talent, who tries to make it their own is suffering from a delusion. The Star Spangled Banner does not and should not belong to any one person. It belongs to the people of The United States and it holds more significance when it's sung together. That's what we need to get back to. So, get up there, sing the song as if you're leading a choir, and, for God's sake, make sure you know the freaking words.

If my sentiments on this matter make make sound like little more than a grumpy old man, well, then GET OFF MY LAWN!

That being said,  how long until Star Spangled Banner: Tha' Remix is available for digital download from your favorite online retailer?

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Assignment

Here's another little movie I made using the Xtranormal text-to-speech movie maker.

This particular Xtranormal movie is based upon a true story drawn from my own experience as a designer/programmer. I've often found that a lot of great designs are ruined by managers who have little more than gut feelings, buzzwords and trend analysis reports to go on.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Very Strange Dream

"Start digging, you miserable sack of slime", he bellowed at me. I had been out in the freezing cold and he'd been tormenting me for so long, that I had lost all track of time. I'd had enough. A white hot flame of anger ignited within me and I snapped. I threw the shovel down, turned around and vented my anger at him. 

"I'm not going along with this", I screamed. "I bought the shovel for you because I needed a new one anyway. And I watched Con Air six times in a row with you because I thought that there just might be some kind of cosmic significance that I had overlooked the first two dozen times I saw it, but digging in the snow for some long dead folk singer's rainy day craft chest is where I draw the line!"

I could tell that, beneath his stone-faced exterior, the ghost of John Malkovich was not at all pleased. He nodded to himself and calmly issued yet another threat. "If you continue to refuse to help me, I'll have no choice but to keep tormenting you until you end up being fitted for a straight jacket and thrown into a padded cell. And then, I'll torment your children. And your childrens' children. Whatever it takes, I'm going to find the lost treasure of Burl Ives so that he and I can both move on to the afterlife."

I brushed him off and scoffed. "You're not even real!"

"Then why are we having a conversation?" asked the ghost John Malkovich.

I thought about it for a moment. It was a good question. After a few moments of pondering, I came to a terrifying realization. "Okay, you're real in the sense that I perceive you as real. But you're not a ghost. You're most likely the result of a few clusters of blown neurons. I must have thrown a clot or had a minor stroke or something. Basically, you're just a figment of my imagination". I turned to walk away from him, hoping that the ghost of John Malkovich would just fade out of my brain.

Even with my backed turned on him, I could sense his sinister smile curl upwards like a slice of bacon cooking on a newly greased frying pan. "Could a blood clot do THIS?" he yelled as he lept toward me and bit into the back of my leg. 

I awoke in my bed, covered in sweat and screaming in pain from the worst charlie horse I had ever felt.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

University Of Phoenix Finally Connects

I spoke to a recruiter form University of Phoenix today. For the last week or so, University of Phoenix has been calling me, but they have been quickly hanging up once I initiate call recording. I figure that the auto-dialer that the University of Phoenix uses to call people senses the Google Voice recorder notification, thinks that it's a voice mail greeting and automatically hangs up.

Calling University of Phoenix back after they hung up on me and then pretending to drop the call was enough to get an adviser to call me directly. Listen to the call below: