Friday, December 30

I'm still here

Forgive me readers (yeah, all three of you), for I have slacked. It's been eight days since my last post.

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

Hangover cures

'Tis the season to get to get tipsy. Fa la la la la, la la la...ouch, my freakin' head. Between office parties, social events, family get-togethers, and the customary rounds of Beer-Who, you're bound to toss a few back this time of year. Well, here's a post on Lifehacker that shares some tips on ways to bounce back - Ask Lifehacker: Hangover cures?. Just as interesting are some of the reader comments.

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

These guys are way funny

You may have already seen the hilarious talent that is The Lonely Island. If you watch SNL, then you've seen Andy Samberg who joined the cast this season. And if your sense of humor is anything like mine, you've most likely spewed whatever your Saturday late-night beverage of choice is from your nose due to the writing of his cronies, Jorma Taccone and Akiva "Kiv" Schaffer.

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).

Tips for remembering to send in rebate forms

Consumerist is a relatively new blog targeted at empowering consumers. In addition to pointing out when retail stores and service providers screw up customer service, it also highlights consumer tips, great deals, and examples of exemplary service. This post (Consumerist: Never forget to claim your rebate again), in particular, provides a great tip for remembering to submit those "pain-in-the-butt" rebates.

Sunday, December 18

Can you Riff it?

I learned about Riffs from this post on Lifehacker a few weeks ago. It basically takes tagging and ratings beyond just websites. It allows you to "Riff" on pretty much anything you want--Music, Books, Movies, Cars, People, Places, Events, TV, Sports, Restaurants, Games, Software, Websites, etc.

Friday, December 16

When did "competition" become a bad word?

I can't get enough of The Apprentice. I'll admit it. I've been hooked all four seasons. (I'll qualify that by saying I've never once watched the faux-Apprentice by ex-con Martha). And Kerry and I called it at about week 5 that Randal would win. Although you might not think so from watching the show, all the candidates have pretty impressive bios. If you're interested, check them out and start with Randal's.

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 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

A little something for everyone

Just two sites that I figured I'd share that you might find amusing. The first is a blog called Cute Overload that has all sorts of cute pictures of animals in various settings. I saw it at this post on Boing Boing: Cute Overload. It's a no brainer for scoring points with little kids and female co-workers. Even the biggest tough guys can't help but smile at some of these.

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

Feeling masochistic? There's a financial calculator for that

Feeling good about yourself? Need a reason to get depressed? Holidays getting you so joyful you're irritating the fam? Well, this always seems to work for me. Just take a stroll down "I can't believe I'm in so much f-ing debt" Lane with me. Come on, you know you've been there. Maybe not in a while, but don't worry, it looks the same just with deeper potholes.

Seriously, if you've got any money questions, concerns, etc., 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

How to talk to a real human?

Don't you just hate calling 800#s and being stuck in IVR hell? Nothing gets my panties boxer briefs in a bunch more than being stuck listening to an automated voice when trying to reach a real LIVE person.

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.

Unique gift sites

Looking for unique gifts? Here are two sites that offer stuff you won't find at the mall.

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.

Good shopping!

Still not sure what a Blog is?

If you're still not sure what a blog is or why you should care, check out this two and a half minute video tutorial - What Is A Blog?

Sunday, December 11

Online classifieds, etc.

There's been some movement in the online classifieds space recently with the addition of Google Base last month and Microsoft announcing its entry, currently code-named "Fremont," a few weeks ago. Both of these services are meant to compete with sites like craigslist. And why not? More and more people are using these types of services. In fact, according to Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than 26 million people visited the top 15 classified sites in September 2005--80% more than the same period last year.

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 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

What's the deal with lists?

They pull us in. We can't look away. Why do we love them? Is it our thirst to just get a small bit of organization and sense in an otherwise insane world? Not such an easy question to answer, is it?

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 by MusicBrainz

I recently discovered Tagger by MusicBrainz. MusicBrainz is a user-maintained community music metadatabase that's been around for a while now. It's a mammoth collection of music metadata--information like artist name, album title, list of tracks on a CD, year, etc for over 338,000 albums.

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

Custom M&M's

Saw this on BoingBoing last week. You can customize your own M&M's. You can choose 2 of 21 available colors and have a different two-lined message on one side of each with classic 'm' on the other side. Apparently there are multiple restrictions on what you can say (the BB post gets into more detail on this).

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 -

Get ready for Zubbles

Well they finally did it. Or, I guess I should say that Tim Kehoe finally did it. I saw this post on BoingBoing last month about this guy's 11 year quest to invent a colored bubble. According to the original story in Popular Science (The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored Bubbles, they should be available around February at Toys 'r Us.

You can even pre-order them or get on the mailing list at Zubbles.

How cool are these?

Tuesday, December 6

10 things my five-year-old needs to unlearn from watching Rudolph

Perhaps I'm just hyper-sensitive having sat through mandatory harassment training at work yesterday, but watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on DVD with my five-year-old, I couldn't help but think that, unless I intervene post-haste, some of the so-called lessons it espouses will one day either get my son pummeled in the schoolyard or escorted from his workplace by armed-guard.

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):

  1. No matter how stupid their rules, you should do whatever your parents tell you to do, if it means fitting in.

  2. It's perfectly acceptable to refer to a woman as "momma," at least around the holidays.

  3. Dentists are gay.

  4. 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.

  5. A carnivorous sasquatch whose had its teeth violently removed without the benefit of anesthesia is not a threat to you.

  6. In fact, said sasquatch can now be easily terrorized by a gaggle of toy dogs.

  7. Any person can get fat in just one day.

  8. The fatter you get, the jollier you become.

  9. You should only accept a misfit with open arms after you've figured out a way to use their disability.

  10. 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.
If I can correct the damage of these anti-lessons (with the exception of maybe #4 - some things a guy's gotta learn for himself), then I will have succeeded as a father.

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 5

Got games?

...on your blog or website, that is? If your interested in having a FREE casual game arcade, then check out LaunchNow by Game Trust. LaunchNow guides you through the process of customizing the look of your arcade and then generates the HTML for easy copying and pasting.

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

Create your own search engine

Do you find yourself going back to the same source for results whenever you do a web search? Well, then is for you. Still in beta, Rollyo enables you to cut through the noise you often get when trying to get organic search results by creating your own custom search engine, dubbed searchrolls, using your own list of trusted sources. It even has features such as a Firefox Plugin, importing your bookmarks, a desktop widget, and adding your searchroll searchbox to your website or blog.

Posted by Picasa

This site also takes the social bookmarking concept of sites like 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

Most comprehensive "How-to" site I've seen is by far the most extensive "how to" manual site I've come across. The site was started in 1999 and is fully categorized as well as searchable.

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.

"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."

So just like Wikipedia, any user can modify or add to any how to manual.

Check it out.

Friday, December 2

One-stop shop for entertainment reviews

If you're looking for one place to go on the web to get reviews of the latest movie, DVD, TV Series, CD, book, or video game release, then look no further. let's you see what all the critics are saying about it. Every entertainment piece is given a "Metascore" that shows the critical consensus at a glance; they are a weighted average of all the critics' grades.

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?

Hmmm, conundrum.

Cool idea for kid's room or home office

I thought this was a pretty cool idea. Kevin Kelly, the current Editor-at-Large for Wired Magazine (one of the few I read cover to cover) shares a couple ideas about how to turn an entire wall into a dry erase board. Ethan has a little one on his door where he practices his writing. So, I'm thinking of doing it on one of the walls in the playroom.

Marker Board Walls

Check it out.

Thursday, December 1

A Photo for Every Minute of the Day

Check this site out. It shows your current time through a photo.
The Human Clock

Someone's got a lot of time on his hands. Ugh, bad pun. Sorry.

Wednesday, November 30

A folksonomy of casual games

Millions of games is the of casual games. Those of you unfamiliar with social bookmarking sites, they allow you to create and classify bookmarks of websites over the web and share them with others. Users can accomplish this by tagging with keywords. For example, I have tagged Billwildered using keywords like Internet, music, websites, God's gift... er, umm, you get the picture.

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

Are you LinkedIn?

I was invited about six months ago to join a colleague's LinkedIn network, and I just finally joined a few weeks ago. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with LinkedIn, it is an online professional networking service. Similar to social networking sites like Friendster and MySpace, LinkedIn enables you to build your network of professional contacts, which will include your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to thousands of qualified professionals. After only a few weeks of inviting former classmates, past colleagues, clients and partners and finding some old contacts through the site's search tool, my network (friend of a friend of a friend) is over 28,400.

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 Barakus

My best friend's brother's band, Barakus, is well worth a listen. They have a unique, edgy sound and some really good range. They play mostly in the DC area but have been adding more NY shows. I got to see them at Continental, and they're a blast to see live. They have an upcoming show at Blaggards in NYC (38th & 5th) on Dec 3rd.

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

Online video-sharing services

Saw this blog on Lifehacker - Online video-sharing service roundup - Lifehacker. It references a recent NY Times article that gives a rundown of video-sharing websites.

I've created accounts on, ClipShack, Vimeo, and YouTube which can each integrate directly with Billwildered. Each seems to be modeled after folksonomy sites like Flickr (photo-sharing) and (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

10 things I'm thankful for

To all my loyal readers (yeah, I'm talking to you three), Happy Thanksgiving! Just thought I'd share 10 things I'm thankful for this year:
  1. my family - they make it all worth it
  2. my friends - they keep me young, give me perspective, and remind me what matters
  3. my health - a little creakier in the joints, but I can still run the court with the 20-somethings
  4. 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
  5. my old job - also a great team of supportive friends where I had the opportunity to spread my wings and learn a lot
  6. my Xbox - yeah, I'm a gamer geek - it's such a great escape though
  7. my Tivo - surely, you don't expect me to watch infomercials during those 3am bottle feedings
  8. my car - the mere fact that the Jetta hasn't died yet deserves my gratitude
  9. 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.
  10. 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

Shoposphere & Pick Lists beta

As a follow up to yesterday's blog, here's one for the shopper who needs gift ideas and doesn't have a Baggle Bag to guide them. It's a new offering from Yahoo! that's still in beta called the Shoposphere.

Posted by Picasa

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

Baggle Bag - The Universal Wishlist Posted by Picasa

This FREE website and application are way cool. 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.

Baggle Bag Posted by Picasa

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 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

What the heck is a "rootkit" anyway?

If you've been reading papers, blogs, or the web or watching TV (even listening to radio) over the past three weeks, you have probably heard this word being bandied about -- "rootkit." Sounds more like a garden tool than a hacker tool to me.

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.


Posted by Picasa

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

Expert Flyer

For those of you who travel by plane often, a younger fraternity brother of mine from my Chapter Advisor days has recently started a website called Expert Flyer. Expert Flyer gives the frequent traveler insight into information about airline flights and fares all over the world.

ExpertFlyer Posted by Picasa

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

Black Friday 2005

If you are one of the few gluttons for punishment who actually enjoys venturing out to the stores on Black Friday, then this site is for you. is a site that gathers the Black Friday ads of most all of the major stores. While they can't say with 100% certainty that the ads are for real, they have had a high success rate in the past.

Here's what they say on their site:
" 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

Try out Smotos!

The beta version of a new photo sharing application called Smotos just launched. It takes so many of the great features that you find on other photo sites and combines them with functions that are typically only available with software bundled with digital cameras. I'll plan a blog of the different photo sites in the future, so you can see how Smotos compares.

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

Birthday Girl!

Guess who turned 1 today! Here are some shots from our small celebration for Sophia's birthday.

Enjoying her present from her big brother.

Ethan's Present
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The princess is waiting for her cake.

Birthday Princess
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Yummy! Or as Sophia says, "Mumm!!"

Mumm! Posted by Picasa

More pics to follow. Her birthday party with friends and family is this Saturday.

Wednesday, November 16

Addicting casual game

I have been doing research on the gaming space lately for work. Those who I've shown my "inner gaming nerd" to know this is kinda a dream come true for me.

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:
" 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

Tuesday, November 15

Internet radio

If you're like me, you haven't plunged headfirst into getting a personal media player (PMP) -- the most common type being an MP3 player. I have a small freebie that I got at a trade show that holds about thirty songs, but it hardly counts with today's standards of 5,000+ songs.

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. requires a download, can integrate with Windows Media Player, allows you to do searches on bands & artists, rate them, and create your own music stations based on your ratings and those of other users.

LAUNCHcast is owned by Yahoo! and integrated with Yahoo! Instant Messenger (YIM). There are certain genre-related stations you can choose from. But the cool part is that you can create your own station by rating songs, albums, and bands, and then let people on your buddy list (who also have you on theirs) see what you're listening to as well as listen to the same station as you.


To be honest, I'm least familiar with this one. I haven't tried it yet, but I've read good things about it. I guess it used to be a paid service, but is now FREE.
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

Jetta - 1, Deer - 0

Driving home from Rensselaer tonight (I was there today speaking in a few classes for one of my former MBA professors), I hit a deer on the NYS Thruway. Let me start by saying, I'm fine. The car, fine (I think). The deer, umm, not so much.

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

50 Weddings

Kerry and I attended our 50th wedding since we've been together yesterday. Yeah, that's a five and a zero, or "fiddy," if you're so inclined.

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).
Bear with me while I take a closer look. Of each of the seven couples who split up, only one made it to the five year mark. According to Divorce Magazine, 82% of married people reach their 5th Anniversary. Our group of friends is at 83%. Not too shabby, but not great either.

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

Remember the Milk

From Lifehacker:

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.

Try it out, it's FREE!


Mozilla Firefox

If you're looking for an alternate web browser, consider Mozilla's Firefox. It has been praised as better, safer from spyware, and more user friendly than Microsoft Internet Explorer.

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

Free directory assistance

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.

Interesting model.

Free "note taking" download

I saw this on a blog a while back and downloaded it today. It's a pretty neat tool. It adds a button right to your Internet Explorer toolbar that when clicked adds whatever you have highlighted on the page (or entire window if nothing's highlighted), pictures and all to EverNote. You can also type notes as well as copy and paste from any application. Plus, it puts a link back to the original source in your notes (url or file).

Probably good for doing research/homework where you're pulling content from multiple websites, PDFs, docs, etc.

EverNote Posted by Picasa


TV commercial of 250,000 superballs let loose in San Francisco

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

Don't you just love autumn?

From Sunday, 11/6 Posted by Picasa

Send an email time capsule to yourself

Forbes has a free service that lets you send an email to yourself and have it arrive in 1, 3, 5, 10, or 20 years. I'm going to have Ethan write one to himself. I'll write one to myself, too.

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Link to Forbes

I also learned that has been doing this for a while. The nice thing about their site is that you can choose a specific date.
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Link to