Friday, December 30
No excuses really. Just been enjoying my vacation.
If you're looking for some help on setting and sticking to New Year resolutions, here are a couple of LifeHacker posts I saw recently that could help:
Ten commandments of goal-setting
Hack Attack: New Year's to-do's
Hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year!! I'll be posting a recap of 2005 soon as well as some 2006 predictions for Billwildered. Peace!
Wednesday, December 21
I also saw this recent article in Business 2.0 titled, "The Upside of Hangovers." It mentions a few of the remedies you can pick up at your local drugstore, of which Chaser is the best-selling and apparently has some actual scientific proof it works.
Or you could do what I did in college...start drinking again. Hey, it got me through four--ahem--five years of college.
In any case, enjoy and remember to drink responsibly.
Tuesday, December 20
Collectively known as "The Dudes," these guys have been putting together shorts, spoof music videos, and even a pilot for Fox (wasn't picked up) and releasing them online under a Creative Commons license since late 2004.
Their latest creation, The Chronic-WHAT-cles of Narnia, is all over the blogs. I found it through this post on Boing Boing. If you prefer, you can go straight to a flash video of the short available on YouTube (see my earlier post on Online video-sharing services).
Sunday, December 18
Friday, December 16
I don't agree with any of this rubbish about the so-called "controversy" when Randal told the Don that he should only hire one apprentice. I agree with Randal. He shouldn't have to share the spotlight with Rebecca. It's a competition. There's only been one winner every other season. Why should this be different? If anything, I think that Bill and Kwami from the first season were a harder choice than these two, and yet, there was still just one winner. It was wrong for Trump to even put Randal in that position.
I'm not sure when it changed, but it seems that "competition" has become a dirty word. And that the premise of having a "loser" is just too much for people. To me, I think there's no better example than the vanilla-ization of school events and youth recreational sports. The idea that "everybody" wins, ergo, nobody loses. Sounds to me like new-age fluff--the brainchild of a committee chock-full of over-protective parents who spent their formative years getting picked last in gym class.
While I agree with the underlying lesson of "It doesn't matter whether you win or lose, but how you play the game," we can't shelter kids from the fact that sometimes...you do lose. Not everyone can be in the top half of the class. Not everyone can be the lead in the school play.
And what about the business world? When you sell a big contract, it means someone else didn't. If you're awarded the Baker account, someone else wasn't. When you get promoted, someone else wasn't. And while you won't always know who that someone else is, it doesn't change the fact that they lost.
Aren't we better served preparing our kids for the times when they are the someone else? Shouldn't we be teaching them how to pick themselves up, learn from the defeat no matter how small, and move on while handling themselves with integrity? It's a lot better than sugarcoating their competitions and filling their heads with the idea that they'll never lose.
Thursday, December 15
But, in case that's a little too cutesy for you, here's an amusing site that talks about the ins and outs (absolutely no pun intended) of pooing at work.
Tuesday, December 13
Seriously, if you've got any money questions, concerns, etc., Bankrate.com can most likely help you calculate it.
It has over 80 financial calculators addressing pretty much every situation--calculating how much house you can afford (or here in Dutchess County, how little), calculating the true cost of paying the minimum on your credit card, and basically everything in between. But I didn't see the "How do I buy a new car, bigger house, and plasma TV while saving for retirement and education and paying down my debt on a single income" calculator. That one would be the shiznit!!
In any case, Bankrate's financial calculators are worth checking out. You may even come across one or two you should do, but never thought of. You just might want to wait till after the holidays.
Monday, December 12
With all the purchases made during the holidays and the inevitable calls to customer service that come after, I've got something that will hopefully make the season merry for you. Well, at least as merry as enduring the crowds, snow, family squabbles, and fruitcakes can be.
Paul English, a seasoned blogger and entrepreneur, has posted his IVR Cheat Sheet, which lists the 800 #s and steps required to talk to a real, LIVE human being at 108 different companies.
If you are looking for something really unique, Modern Artisans specializes in unique, handcrafted products for your home. Some of their items are even one-of-a-kind.
T-shirts are in. T-Shirt Countdown not only gives you access to tons of unique t-shirts ranging from downright offensive (you've been warned) to political to even religious (gotta get my "Satan is a nerd" shirt), but it also lets you chime in with your anonymous votes on the Top 100 (I know, more lists). The site is set up like a portal and will send you to the individual t-shirt merchant sites.
Sunday, December 11
Those of you unfamiliar with these person-to-person marketplaces, the easiest way for me to describe them is that they are FREE online versions of the classifieds section of your local newspaper. Craigslist is the most notable. Started in 1995 by Craig Newmark, a former IBMer, craigslist has been successful at rendering newspaper classifieds as unnecessary, if not obsolete. Friends of mine have used the site, for example, to buy and sell furniture and cars. Another rented out his Manhattan apartment for the Christmas season, and one friend even found his first house there.
Google Base was originally positioned as simply a database, into which any sort of information can be uploaded--from apartment or job listings to recipes for your mom's Vietnamese egg rolls. But don't be fooled, many of the fields in the database and forms relate to major classifieds categories: number of bedrooms for apartment listings, or education required for job postings, for example. Nevertheless, it's unclear as to how it will ultimately evolve.
Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to be clearly positioning their service as a classifieds play, but with more. They are integrating with their other services like MSN Spaces, MSN Messenger, and MapPoint as well as adding a flavor of social networking to the offering by giving users the option of allowing only friends, family, or co-workers to view ads. It's not available to the public yet (see the landing page here), but keep your eyes peeled for the spring, most likely as part of its Live.com initiative and probably renamed Microsoft Live Classifieds.
So, next time you're thinking of buying or selling something, I encourage you to take a look at these sites.
And for those of you looking to just get rid of stuff, you can advertise things you want to give away for free on Freecycle, where nothing, apparently, is too old or damaged or useless to try to unload. Just identify the freecycle group in your area (there are over 3,200 worldwide), join the e-mail list, agree to some rules, and you're good to go.
Friday, December 9
Let's face it, lists have been a part of our entire lives--10 Commandments, 8 Wonders of the World, 7 Deadly Sins, 6 Articles of Belief, 13 Principles of Faith, 4 Objectives of Life, 4 Noble Truths, 12 Steps, 50 Sexiest People, 7 Places to Touch Her to Make Her go Ooaaaoooh...or is it 13 places? Umm, well, you get the idea.
I mean it's easy to understand why writers love them. They're easy to write, can take up a lot or a little space, and create the illusion that the author has some sort of mystical and elusive wisdom to hand down to their dim-witted, media-overloaded readers.
Well, if you can't get enough, apparently this guy compiles all the top lists of the year from all sorts of different sources and, naturally, lists them. He's got it all: books, music, movies, toys, people, gadgets, games, food, you name it. You can see his list of lists here.
If there isn't enough list mojo at that site for you get your fix, check out Wiki's List of Lists for all manner of nonsensical hooey.
If you think of any others, just let me know. I'll be sure to list them.
Thursday, December 8
Tagger is their free downloadable app (they accept donations) that can help you out with the poorly labeled tracks that we all have in our ripped and downloaded music libraries. Tagger cross-references the acoustic fingerprint of each untitled tune with the MusicBrainz metadatabase, then fills in the missing info for you. On the first pass through the mp3's on my PC (only about 530), it correctly identified a little more than 80% of them. Not too shabby.
So, if you're a little anal about having the correct metadata on all your mp3 files--like me--then you should try it out.
Wednesday, December 7
Sorry I didn't post this sooner though, it looks like they've had so many orders that they can't guarantee delivery in time for Christmas anymore. I believe they're saying Dec 28th right now.
If you're interested, check out the site - shop.mms.com.
You can even pre-order them or get on the mailing list at Zubbles.
How cool are these?
Tuesday, December 6
Not for nothing, but much of what you can learn from Rudolph's tale, especially to a precocious five-year old, is just plain dumb.
So, for your enjoyment (or maybe displeasure), here are my 10 Rudolph takeaways (not in any particular order):
- No matter how stupid their rules, you should do whatever your parents tell you to do, if it means fitting in.
- It's perfectly acceptable to refer to a woman as "momma," at least around the holidays.
- Dentists are gay.
- When a girl says "I think you're cute," it's SOP to jump around in tickled elation and immediately follow it with a bout of playground grab-ass with your pals.
- A carnivorous sasquatch whose had its teeth violently removed without the benefit of anesthesia is not a threat to you.
- In fact, said sasquatch can now be easily terrorized by a gaggle of toy dogs.
- Any person can get fat in just one day.
- The fatter you get, the jollier you become.
- You should only accept a misfit with open arms after you've figured out a way to use their disability.
- The best way to tame a mean-spirited boss is to skip out on work for a few days and return having saved a few locals from certain consumption.
Monday, December 5
The only downsides are that there currently aren't many games to choose from and that users who want to play are required to register with Game Trust.
I have it on the main page of my blog for now to see how it goes (at bottom of sidebar).
Sunday, December 4
This site also takes the social bookmarking concept of sites like del.icio.us one step further by allowing you to share your searchrolls. You have the option of sharing any of your searchrolls and tagging them with keywords.
Great for research or just filtering results. Check it out.
One caveat, I'm a firm believer that true organic search is a great way to find websites you may not have been aware of and therefore, potential new sources of information. If you do decide to use Rollyo, I would encourage you to broaden your searches occasionally so that you don't shelter yourself from something new.
Saturday, December 3
I entered a quick search using the keyword "dog" and got over 3,700 how-to's back. The first page results ranged from straightforward advice like "How to Give a Small Dog a Bath" to a little more out of the ordinary like "How to Treat Your Dog's Separation Anxiety."
What's also cool about eHow is that they've jumped on the Wiki bandwagon by starting wikiHow back in January.
So just like Wikipedia, any user can modify or add to any how to manual.
"wikiHow is collaborative writing project to build the world's largest how-to manual. With your contributions, we can create a free resource that helps people by offering clear, concise solutions to the problems of everyday life. wikiHow currently contains 3755 articles written, edited, and maintained primarily by volunteers."
Check it out.
Friday, December 2
So, if you haven't yet bought into the grassroots community review being done by every Tom, Dick, and wannabe Siskel on the blogosphere, then this site's for you. But then again, if you aren't just a little bought in, you wouldn't be listening to me then, would you?
Marker Board Walls
Check it out.
Thursday, December 1
Wednesday, November 30
In any case, Millions of games or MOG is a social bookmarking site just for online casual games (see previous Addicting Casual Game post).
"When you 'MOG' a game it gets added to your list of games (your MOG) and you get to see how many others have MOGGED it too and as such, how popular it is."Check it out and have fun MOGGING!
Tuesday, November 29
Once you join, you create a profile much like a watered down resume and can invite your contacts to join your network. Since there's over 4.2 million people on it already, it's also fairly easy to reconnect with people you may have lost touch with. I was able to find a bunch of old classmates from graduate school and invite them to join my network.
Most people are using the site to find mentors, subject experts, and business partners who come recommended, be found for business opportunities, search for jobs, or just get introduced to other professionals through the people they know.
So, take a look. Once you're on, find me, and we can join each other's networks.
Monday, November 28
Check out their site or their MySpace page. They have songs available for download. My favorites are Love and Money, London Said, and Ticket To My Soul.
If you really like their stuff, you can buy their EP at CDBaby.
Sunday, November 27
I've created accounts on Blip.tv, ClipShack, Vimeo, and YouTube which can each integrate directly with Billwildered. Each seems to be modeled after folksonomy sites like Flickr (photo-sharing) and del.icio.us (website favorites sharing), both of which use tags for easy searching. I'll re-post or add a comment to give you the lowdown on my opinion. So, keep your eyes peeled for video on Billwildered (I just have to get around to editing and uploading all the video we have of the kids).
BTW - Google Video is not really a video-sharing service -- at least for the masses. It has been getting some press lately as many of the networks are making videos and clips of TV shows available there.
Lastly, if you're looking to make a little money off your creations, another site called Revver is worth looking into. The way it works is that Revver attaches an advertisement (you control the type) to your video. They call it a RevTag and that tells you how often your video is played, which dictates how much money you can make.
Anyone looking to share video should check these out. And please comment if you've run across other video-sharing sites.
Thursday, November 24
- my family - they make it all worth it
- my friends - they keep me young, give me perspective, and remind me what matters
- my health - a little creakier in the joints, but I can still run the court with the 20-somethings
- my new job - a great team, excellent organization, fun and creative colleagues, and a position filled with opportunity to be innovative that puts me in the heart of the Internet
- my old job - also a great team of supportive friends where I had the opportunity to spread my wings and learn a lot
- my Xbox - yeah, I'm a gamer geek - it's such a great escape though
- my Tivo - surely, you don't expect me to watch infomercials during those 3am bottle feedings
- my car - the mere fact that the Jetta hasn't died yet deserves my gratitude
- my gut - no, not the one formerly around my waist (Thin Bill's been back for years!). Just my clumsy intuition - so far, it's done me well.
- my ambition - not so much professional, but just to be a better person, a better husband, father, brother, friend, co-worker, etc.
I'd be remiss to not mention you, my surprisingly silent, lurking readers.
What are you thankful for? You are out there, right? Hello? Helllloooo?
Wednesday, November 23
Taking a page from the growth of social networking sites (like Friendster and MySpace), Yahoo! characterizes the Shoposphere as "social commerce."
We believe the community of shoppers is one of the best sources for product information and advice. The Shoposphere is a place to discover interesting and cool products thematically arranged into Pick Lists by other shoppers. It’s always changing. It includes new lists in a “product stream” and highest rated lists which are a fun way to explore new products and trends. The Shoposphere will continue to evolve as a hub for other types of user-generated content.The idea is that all users can create Pick Lists of products and post them. Pick List titles can be anything -- from "Top 10 Must Have DVDs" to "Best gifts for getting out of the doghouse" and even "I wanna be like Napolean Dynamite." But then the user community weighs in by grading how helpful different lists are -- thus the social aspect.
Anyways, trying to find gift ideas for that hard to shop for loved one, check out Shoposphere.
Tuesday, November 22
This FREE website and application are way cool. Baggle.com is an online shopping tool that allows you to store items you find anywhere on the web to a single "Baggle Bag."
As the holidays approach and more and more shopping is being done online, could you think of anything more useful than this?
The way it works is you can either download a small application that adds a button to your Internet Explorer or Firefox toolbar or manually add a link to your favorites list. When you find something on the web that you want to put in your Baggle Bag, just click the Baggle icon in your toolbar or click the Favorites link (if you opted not to download). Then Baggle will prompt you to highlight and/or type info.
The application is great for comparison shopping. But even better, it's a good way to provide gift ideas to loved ones, perhaps to unimaginative husbands (not that I know any). All you do is send people to Baggle.com where they can type in your name or you can send them your personal Baggle link. Once there, they can see any "public" bags you've created, review items, click on links, and will be taken to whatever site you were on when you added it to your bag. Cool, huh? Try it out.
Thanks to Casey for showing this to me.
Monday, November 21
Why do you bring up such a dry, mundane, technospeaky topic, Bill?
Well, faithful reader, it seems that in its efforts to preserve its bottom line (and effectively piss off its customers), Sony has bundled its "XCP Content Protection" software onto several of its music CDs, primarily being distributed through BMG. Apparently, when customers play the CDs on their computers, the "rootkit"-like DRM software is installed without their knowledge. It was meant to limit the number of times songs could be copied or "ripped."
Well, they got caught, which isn't the worst part. Apparently, the rootkit leaves your PC vulnerable to hackers, and what's worse is the uninstaller or "patch" that Sony provided leaves an even bigger security hole. Surely that must be the worst of it, you say. Sorry, there's more.
The worst is that Sony tried to downlplay the risk and denied that the rootkit creates problems. In all the hubbub, it's also been discovered that the rootkit software is also sending information back to Sony about how the media is being used. Basically, they're spying on customers.
The results so far are that Sony CDs have been banned from the workplace of many companies and gov't agencies, Sony's DRM has infected over 500,000 computer networks including those belonging to the military and the government, and a class-action suit has been filed against Sony.
Umm, kind of a big black eye to sport going into the holiday shopping season, don't you think? So, take it into consideration as you shop for gifts for your loved ones.
If you're interested in more details about how this developed, there's a great summary on Boing Boing.
And to see the list of CDs containing the "rootkit," click here.
Those of you unfamiliar with GMail, it is Google's FREE web-based email service. It is currently still in beta, and the only way to sign up yourself is through text messaging on an SMS-enabled cell phone. You can, however, be invited by a current user.
If you're interested, let me know. I have been using GMail for a few months, and while at first glance it looks like any other web-based email service, there are a few interesting features we haven't seen before. My favorite features of GMail, aside from its storage (almost 3 Gigs), are the search capabilities, its use of labels instead of folders, and how it groups messages into conversations.
While the interface takes some getting used to, I have to say I like it. So let me know if you'd like me to invite you.
Sunday, November 20
While they don't sell airline tickets, they provide access to information that will allow you to make better travel decisions as well as get the most out of your frequent flyer miles.
Expert Flyer is a subscription service, so unless you travel often or are willing to do the research, it may not be for you. If you're interested, they offer two levels of service: basic ($4.99/mo) and premium ($9.99/mo).
Saturday, November 19
Here's what they say on their site:
"BFads.net is meant to serve one purpose: to be the ultimate collection of rumored Black Friday 2005 deals."Anyhow, if you are interested, take a look. At the very least, it can give you some ideas on the store ads to look out for when they come out on Wednesday.
Thanks to my friend, Richard, for the heads up.
Friday, November 18
Like many of the other applications/websites I highlight it is FREE.
Since it is in beta though, you have the unique opportunity to share your thoughts and make suggestions -- many of which could likely be available in version 1.0, when it's released.
So, take a look and let me know what you think.
Thursday, November 17
Enjoying her present from her big brother.
The princess is waiting for her cake.
Yummy! Or as Sophia says, "Mumm!!"
More pics to follow. Her birthday party with friends and family is this Saturday.
Wednesday, November 16
But anyways, it's an amazing industry going through continual growth. And it's not just the console games (Xbox, PlayStation, Gamecube, etc.), handhelds (Gameboy, PSP), or even PC gaming. Much of the growth is coming from online gaming. And many people think that online gaming can and will eventually make PC games obsolete as web graphic technology advances and bandwidth increases.
Online games can be split into two major categories: casual gaming and what's called massively multiplayer online games (MMOs for short). Casual games are those that are simple in terms of both graphics and gameplay -- Bejeweled and many of the Mahjong titles for example. MMOs are much more sophisticated and complex. You can equate most to role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. While some casual games allow you to play against others online, MMOs are all about the online play with others, either in head-to-head battles or as part of a team in what are most commonly called guilds. MMOs are much bigger in Asia and Europe; they are still somewhat of a niche in the states. Still, millions of dollars are being spent by stateside gamers to play titles like EverQuest, World of Warcraft, CounterStrike, and Asheron Call online.
Well enough with the lesson. Today I met Eric & Peter, the co-founders of the game developer behind Diner Dash -- the number one online and downloaded casual game worldwide. They were recently referenced in Business Week. The article said this about the casual gaming space:
"...an estimated 56 million adults worldwide who may not care when the next Madden NFL Football is released but who still want a little game time. Call them the casual gamers: a set of folks loosely defined as those who have broadband but play less frequently -- and who want less complex games -- than the much smaller hard-core gaming crowd."
Check out this game (link below). I tried it out before heading into Manhattan to meet them. While quite simple, it is very, very addicting. (BTW - I saw General Norman Schwarzkopf while waiting in the lobby. Apparently he's on our board.)
Link to BWeek article
Link to free online version of Diner Dash at addictinggames.com
Tuesday, November 15
Regardless, there are a number of sites and services out there that can turn you onto some new music and more obscure bands that you may not be aware of. Many of these take the form of Internet radio. Here's a quick sample of a few I'm familiar with. You can take a look and decide which might be the best fit for you.
Here's a Lifehacker post about it.
Anyhow, take a look. Let me know if you know of any others (besides RealPlayer, Windows Media, iTunes, Quicktime. Yawn.). And definitely let me know if you uncover some good bands.
Monday, November 14
So, I'm driving down I87 and thinking I should hit the rest stop (damn those free Lally School Diet Pepsi's). I start changing lanes to get off at the service area, when alas, a deer (let's call him Fido) decides he wants to play pickle in my lane.
So, Fido darts out. I react, swerve right, then break, but not hard enough to avoid Fido when he changes direction, apparently giving up on getting that extra base. So, with my heart beating in my throat at about 120 beats per second, I pull into the service area, park, pry my hands off the wheel, and do an inventory of body parts.
I call Kerry to let her know what happened and try to assess the damage, but it was kinda difficult to focus. So I walked in, splashed some water on my face, used the restroom, and grabbed another soda (I'll never learn).
Unsure if I needed to file a police report, I called my insurance company (the one with the break-dancing lizard) and get paired up with "Gary the Aussie." He feigns his concern for my well-being and takes down the details of the "incident." As Dundee, er, Gary is finishing up, he asks "Oh, how's the deer?" And I'm like, "Deer? Oh yeah, Fido. Umm, not sure really."
What I didn't say was considering what was on my car, I was pretty sure that Fido was playing his game of pickle with Bambi's mommy.
So, I said my "G'Day" to Gary and drove the remaining 70 miles home to Kerry and the kids.
As for Fido -- I feel bad, really bad. I do. But better him than me, mate.
Sunday, November 13
I know what you must be thinking, "That's a lot of renditions of the chicken dance that we've suffered through." UGH!
Here's just a quick summary:
- Kerry's been in four of them.
- I've been in four of them.
- Seven have ended in divorce.
- Two have been second marriages (we attended both the first and second in each case).
The good news is that while supposedly only 65% make it to their 10th, our friends have done much better with a whopping 90%. And, of all the weddings we've attended in the last seven years (since we said our "I do's"), none have ended.
Any ways, no big revelation here. Just felt like sharing.
Friday, November 11
Try it out, it's FREE!
Remember The Milk is a free on-line to-do list service. It has lots of the features you’d expect from this sort of site: multiple lists, priorities, due-dates, repeating tasks, etc.
My favorite feature is the built-in nagging system that reminds you to get the job done. You can request reminders by E-Mail, IM or SMS. In addition, you can share and publish your to-do lists and create new tasks by e-mail.
In the Forbes article (link below), it mentions several advantages.
"From the very beginning with Firefox you will notice a faster, cleaner feel to your browsing, as though you're surfing the Web having lost that beer gut from college."The article is a year old, but Firefox has only gotten better. In just a year, it has captured over 6% market share from Microsoft.
Link to Forbes article
Link to get Firefox
Thursday, November 10
I saw this on Lifehacker and in a newspaper article, too. 1-800-FREE-411 is an ad-supported alternative to costly 411 directory assistance. The price for avoiding the $1.80 to $3.49 charge of a 411 call is listening to an ad based on your information request - so you hear about the competitors to the business you’re asking about.
Works on mobile phones, too.
Probably good for doing research/homework where you're pulling content from multiple websites, PDFs, docs, etc.
I saw this on Boing Boing a few weeks ago, and then read about it in a magazine called Creativity that I picked up at the Ad Tech trade show I attended in Manhattan on Monday. It is a TV ad for the Sony BRAVIA -- there's a 60 sec spot and a 2.5 min extended spot. Titled "Color Like No Other," the spot was done by Fallon/London. Very cool.
Link to Boing Boing post
See the BRAVIA ad
Note: You'll need to download the latest version of QuickTime to view it. There's a link on the page, or you can click here.
Wednesday, November 9
Link to Forbes
I also learned that futureme.org has been doing this for a while. The nice thing about their site is that you can choose a specific date.
Link to futureme.org