Useful software: A great tool for web or software UI designers

Have you ever had to:
a. take a screen shot of just part of your screen
b. try to match your web page color to something on your screen
c. figure out how wide to make a div or table cell

Working as a program manager at Microsoft typically means you take a lot of screen shots.  Screen shots of web pages, screen shots of application prototypes and (yes) screen shots of screen shots.  There are a ton of tools out there that do a number of these functions, some free, some not.  My current favorite tool happens to also have my current favorite price.

Mezer Tools from Bayden Systems is a free little app with a very appropriate icon: a Swiss Army knife.  This great, multi-purpose tool has widgets for measuring linear pixel dimensions and capturing arbitrary rectangles.  The dialog box also has additional tools for converting to and from Hex and for grabbing colors from anywhere on the screen.

Screenshots (made with Mezer, of course), click for a closer look.

Here’s a list of some of the cool stuff you can do:

  • Double-click the edge of a window to grow to the edge of the screen (not maximize)

  • Capture a target window or just an arbitrary section of screen

  • Capture screen to clipboard or directly to .JPG or .BMP

  • Flag screen captures with arrows or scribbles

  • Copy arbitrary string lengths to clipboard

  • Measure the number of characters in the clipboard

  • Grab the hex and RGB values from any location on the screen

  • Convert from hex to decimal and back

Video Games


Life Video Games


I ordered my Xbox 360, and was cheap so I ordered it shipped via ground


I went to Mike, told him to order an Xbox 360.  Go ahead and pick ground, that’s what I did.


Mike went to Dick, told him to order an Xbox 360.  We had ours shipped via ground.  Dick did the same… twice.



Now, because none of us were willing to spring for the extra few bucks for two-day delivery we are suffering through the weekend without our new toys.  All of us except Mike, he pawed the ground a bit, dipped his head and charged through the pasture fence.  He scoured the countryside and, after trundling around a china shop called “Best Buy”, he found himself a 360 at Costco.


At least our herd has a bull now.

Confused?  Read this: Moooooo

“Larry the Cow” artwork created by Matteo ‘Peach’ Pescarin and shamelessly lifted from the gentoo user forums.

Video Games

Hello? FedEX, is that you?

I tell myself I’m working at home today because I had to take my dog to the vet.  My dog needed her teeth cleaned, nails cut and a mole removed.  I dropped her off this morning.  Since then I’ve been working at home, doing e-mail, making conference calls and obsessively hitting refresh on the FedEX tracking page for my new Xbox 360.

You all think I’m crazy.  All of you, except Mike and Trina.  Well… I don’t care what you think!  Just stay away from me… unless you’re wearing a purple and orange jumpsuit, in which case I have home-baked cookies for you, please hurry, they’re still warm.


Must not see TV: Heist

Paula and I always love a good caper movie, so when we saw the ads for Heist on TV we thought, hey, looks like a fun diversion.  We were only able to sit through fifteen minutes of this derivative drivel.

NBC sez Heist is “a series driven by unforgettable characters”… absolutely, they’re unforgettable because you’ve seen them in a thousand other movies and TV shows. 

The criminal star characters of this garbage were lifted directly from the Italian Job, Ocean’s Eleven, Mission Impossible, you name it.  There’s Mickey, the handsome, clever criminal mastermind.  James, Mickey’s trusted partner in crime and intellectual fencing partner.  “Pops”, the wise, criminal father-figure (with requisite fedora and members-only jacket).  Ricky, the cute, Bronx-accented, wet-behind-the-ears thief.  And, of course, Lola, the beautiful but extra-tough she-thug who will punch you in the mouth as soon as you call her “babe”.

The law-enforcement characters are no better.  There’s Amy, the beautiful cop with a huge chip on her shoulder… trying hard to make a name for herself in a man’s world.  There’s Billy, the overweight, narrow-minded cop who speaks his mind without restraint… waffling between offensive and endearingly honest.  The only cop who hasn’t become jaded and cynical is Tyrese, the young idealistic black detective.

Let’s see, in the first fifteen minutes, Mickey and James show how clever they are by casually robbing a jewelry store, quizzing each other on ancient history to help pass the time.  Amy, the cop making a name for herself, busts a ring of thieves who rob moving trains (the noisy train robbers driving 4x4s were without hubris or subtlety, it was obvious they’d be arrested).  Amy then (without so much as a good night’s sleep) goes to investigate Mikey and James’s break-in.  Mikey is, of course, on the roof across the street, taking pictures of Amy investigating the robbery.

Scene: looking at Amy through the lens of a powerful camera.  The shutter releases several times, three back and white images of Amy in rapid succession.

Zoom in from street level to Mikey on the roof across the street with a camera.

Mikey: “Keep your enemies close…”

Fade out.  End scene.

Holy crap!  The thing that shocks me is this: somebody in LA pushed back from their keyboard and thought to themselves… “Man, this is great stuff.”



A close up of the bug taken by the company that did the vinyl wrap.

Gear Photography

But… that’s just not possible!

I never thought I’d see it happen… but it did.

One of my compact flash cards failed.

Nothing strange happened.  No shocks, no static electricity, no driving over it with a car (Rob).  Took ten pictures.  Downloaded them.  Took three more.  Poof.

I think from now on I’ll carry an extra flash card or two when I travel.


Bathroom remodel, days eleven and twelve

Paula had a break in her homework load and so we did some tag team tile work. The weekend flew and we now have just a little edge-work left before doing the grout.



Gear Hardware

Geek girls rock

Ok, I admit it, smart women make my nerd beanie spin.  Brains wins over cheesecake, no doubt about it.  If, however, someone tells you smarts and style are incompatible you can give them your best Urkle laugh and walk away.

Here’s a cool thing, laptop bags just for women.

While I may have ridiculed the idea someone would want to put their cell phone in a briefcase pocket which blocks out incoming RF (and, presumably, incoming calls) I do have to commend Mobile Edge for spotting a need: laptop bags which don’t look like laptop bags.

To be sure my super-powered geek-vision wasn’t clouding the issue, I checked with my better 50% (who is a history geek, band geek and photogenic fashion plate).  The verdict?  Paula agrees, these are great looking bags.

Check out Mobile Edge’s line of women’s bags.  If I were a woman (or cross-dresser) I’d totally go right out and buy one of these.

Madison laptop bag

Microsoft Overheard

See, this proves it, we’re not evil

“Microsoft is not even a bad guy… you know… they want to be even more like Apple.”
   – Steve Wozniak (from This Week in Tech, 3/5/2006)