Life Web

Where’s Steev?

Steev (no, not a typo) is a ton of fun… apparently too much fun for a single web page.

Aparently he needs more to do.

Life Weird

Oh come on… I can still write specs… honest!

While working on the Hotmail schedule I discovered that my worth as a PM has been diminished now that I’m a lead.  I know it’s true, our project management software, used for scheduling work, proves it. 


Computers can’t lie, right?


Get movin’ Maggot!

Er… creative and just plain weird.

Dip a maggot in paint and watch it wander across a page.  Use different colors of paint and you get…

wait for it…

Maggot Art!

The description on their web page really sounds much more wholesome:

Maggot Art™ is a fantastic new teaching tool for use in the elementary school setting.  Children get hands-on experience with insects that most people find truly disgusting — maggots — while creating a beautiful piece of artwork to share with others.

Found on Kukla’s blog.


Hotmail Microsoft Reference Software

Want less Spam in your Hotmail account?

There’s a quick and easy step you can take: turn your junk e-mail filter from “Low” to “Enhanced”.  At the lowest level Hotmail will delete the known junk e-mail before it even lands in your account.  There are, however, clever filters that deal with junk e-mail we haven’t heard of yet… when you switch from “Low” to “Enhanced” you get the added benefit of Hotmail moving the mail we’re not quite sure about into the junk e-mail folder for you to examine later.

To help protect yourself from junk e-mail:

Turn your junk e-mail filter to “Enhanced”
Cranking it up from low is the difference between “we know this is junk” and “we think this is junk.” Hotmail gets rid of the things we know are junk… the things we think are junk we move to the junk e-mail folder… but only if your filter is set to “Enhanced.”
Add your friends’ e-mail addresses to your address book
You can import, use the contacts builder feature on the contacts page or simply check the box on the sent mail confirmation page.
Add other addresses to your safe list

Adding addresses to your safe list but not your address book keeps your address book tidy but makes sure you receive your e-mails from Amazon.
When you receive junk e-mail in your inbox, select the junk e-mail and click the “junk” button

When you report the junk we missed the junk e-mail automatically goes into a system which trains our filters to be better in the future (be patient, though, it does take some time for the filters to learn, you won’t see an immediate effect, but like exercise, it works over time).
Check your e-mail every day
This sound funny but it is really more of a psychological trick than anything else. If you check your Hotmail account every day you’ll find that the amount of junk in your inbox is quite small and easy to deal with. When you take the task in small bites it’s easier to stomach (and frankly, quite painless).

To turn your junk e-mail filter from 1 to 11:

  1. Sign into Hotmail
  2. Click the “Mail” tab
  3. Click the “Options” link (it’s at the top right, near “Help”)
  4. Click the “Junk E-Mail Protection” link
  5. Click the “Junk E-Mail Filter” link
  6. Select the “Enhanced” level
  7. Click the “OK” button
  8. Get less spam in your inbox

Too many steps? Try my direct link to your Junk E-Mail Filter Options.



Table Nutball anyone?

No, it’s not that questionable appetizer your Aunt Mildred serves…

it’s playing table hockey…

with nuts…

against squirrels.

A hint, you get bonus points for hitting the squirrels in the naughty bits.

Enjoy! table nutball


Eye candy with a capital EYE

Imagine a 90 minute classical music video filmed in beautiful locations.

Imagine a martial arts sword movie with lots of wire work.

Toss the two in a Cuisenart…et voilà! Hero.

Hero is a true visual and musical treat for fans of Chinese/Hong Kong martial arts movies.  Containing more emotional content then any action film ought to, presenting a striking visual style and possessed of a musical score with acres of pedigree Hero is a movie that defies you to find a frame of reference.

While the pure artistry of this movie is beyond compare, it is a martial arts movie… if you don’t like the genre, you may find the story won’t hold your attention.  If, however, you’re up for a feast of optic gluttony served up with a heaping side of musical goodness, you won’t be disappointed.  Tan Dun‘s score featuring Itzhak Perlman and KODO Drummers of Japan makes you just sit back and rub your belly.  Mmmm… tasty.

I could go on about how beautiful this movie is… but instead I ask you to just look… the use of color in this film borders on overwhelming and yet is delivered with incomparable precision… they whipped out a big ol’ Technicolor sledge hammer and did finish carpentery… and you won’t find a missed stroke anywhere.




Dogs Overheard Weird

Would that be considered a hardware or a software problem?

A friend e-mailed me…

[My Wife’s] crt stopped working so I took a look around making sure everything was still plugged in, etc., Then I took a look on top where the cat likes to sit on the cooling vents to keep warm and found a pile of cat barf. After removing the monitor I found liquid had traveled from the top to the bottom, shorting out the crt.

I would have sent a picture of the problem but the dogs ate the barf.

Hardware Software

Are you crash-safe?

No one ever wants to believe their computer will fail them.  You can try to make yourself feel safer… your computer is new, it’s under warranty, you take good care of it… but make no mistake, your computer will fail, and probably at a really really bad time.  Here’s something that may help you make up your mind: I received a brand-new laptop at work in July of 2002, by September of 2002 the hard drive had failed completely.  Brand new hard can fail and older drives will fail. You must have a back up solution.

I can hear the whining already: Back ups?  Are you sure?  Making backups is such a pain.  It’s too hard.  I don’t know how!

a) Backing up your data can be easy
b) You aren’t safe

People who have tried back up solutions in the past which require swapping floppies in and out or copying data to CDs will no doubt agree, backing up data can be a long tedious process.  Corporate backups used to be made to tape drives, also time consuming and definitely expensive.  There is good news: the plummeting price of hard drives has made back up much simpler and cheaper.  Couple an inexpensive external drive with some inexpensive software and you have yourself a backup solution.

This past winter vacation I set up a very simple backup solution on both my parents computers.  I used an external hard drive connected via USB (yes, simple plug in, just like a digital camera) and some straight forward software from Symantec called Norton Ghost 9.0.  It took a bit of time to format the hard drive (not difficult, just had to wait, it takes time) and no time at all to set up Ghost.  The software will automatically back up a computer on a schedule you specify.  It couldn’t be more simple.

The best back up systems will protect you from:
1. Hardware failure (the inevitable drive failure)
2. Theft (it happens)
3. Hardware destruction (house fire or clumsy nephew with a can of Coke)

You love your digital camera, don’t you?  You take a whole mess of pictures.  Now… what happens if your hard drive crashes?  The hard drive contains what amounts to negatives for all your digital pictures.  Having your hard drive crash is really like having your digital house burn down.  Eeek!  If your real house burns down you will loose all your pictures and the negatives, but you can easily protect your digital negatives.  Take your external back up hard drive to work with you for added data security.

So, here’s the recipe:
1) Determine the size of the hard drive inside your computer
2) Find an external hard drive equal to or larger than your computer’s drive (try Price Watch for good prices)
3) Select some backup software (list of options at bottom)
4) Install both and set the software to run automatically

Most computers have hard drives smaller than 80 gigabytes, an 80 gigabyte USB drive found on price watch: less than $70.  Backup software can be had for less than $50.  I’m sure the data on your computer is worth more than $120 and an hour of your time.

Here are some possible back up software solutions:


Happy new year – crappy movies

We rented a few last weekend, here’s the good, the bad and the ugly (make that the crappy, the fun and the long).

Hard Cash
Hey look!  An action movie with Christian Slater, Val Kilmer, Daryl Hannah and William Forsythe.  Paula, Mark and I looked at each other, shrugged and rented it.  Don’t you make this same mistake.  I now understand why this stinker went straight to video.  It starts off crappy and low-budget and then… well, it sucked so bad we turned it off.  I got my good deed for the year out of the way early… I took the bullet for you on this film. 2005 is looking great already (it certainly can’t get any worse).

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
The Christian Slater stinker left a bad taste in our mouth, a little mindless fun in the form of a sequel to a movie based off a video game was in order.  The Cradle of Life is a fun, fast action flick with a likable cast of characters headed up by the smart-Alec, butt-kicking Croft (played by the first lady of lips, Angelina Jolie).  Okay, I’ve gotten over that she used to carry around Billy Bob Thorton’s blood in a locket and it no longer creeps me out to look at her.  The acting is great across the board and the great cast does what they can with a mediocre script.  Don’t expect a detailed thriller and you won’t be disappointed.

The Return of the King (Extended version)
Make sure you set aside more than four hours to watch this fluffed up version of Peter Jackson’s final installment.  Either add the extra time or get a mini-fridge and a catheter for your TV room.  Though it is long, it is a fun watch (and given the choice, I’d rather sit through this than Gandhi).  The added scenes don’t add significant plot points from the book but merely suggest them (e.g. there are some added scenes with Eowyn and Faramir in the Houses of the Healing, enough to remind book fans of the romance between the two but not enough to give people who haven’t read the books an idea of what happened).  My major complaint remains that Peter Jackson changed some significant and not so significant story-lines that I thought did add to the books.  In particular I was disappointed by his handling of the Saruman sub-plot and when the undead army appeared (the whole point in the book was the suspense of the pirate fleet landing… the movie tells you in advance that the pirate fleet is friendly).  One big plus of the extended DVD:  they’ve extended the scene of Peter Jackson getting stuck through the chest with one of Legolas’s arrows… it’s a cathartic (but as far as directors screwing stuff up goes, I still think George Lucas is more evil).