Women and Haircuts

So Elena got a haircut the other day, and right before she got home I made a mental note that I needed to complement her hair as soon as she walked through the door. Like many men, complimenting haircuts is not a normal reaction.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a complete Ogre. If you come home looking like Olivia Newton John at the end of Grease, you better believe I am going to take notice.

But when the style remains unchanged and the length is trimmed only a couple of inches, it doesn’t quite register with men. Also if you color your hair and it doesn’t go from say “brown” to say “blond with pink highlights”, it will probably go unnoticed as well.

In any event, after sixteen years of living together, I have learned how much water and sunlight my little flower needs to thrive. Woman like to know that their man takes notice, and compliments are hard to come by the longer you are in a relationship. It’s one of those auxiliary activities that unintentionally falls by the way side. It’s not difficult to do, but noticing subtleties is not one of the strengths of men. Hence a quick mental note and a flattering comment later and everyone is happy.

Emma’s Tech Tip – Gmail

You may have heard about a little company named Google. If you’re thinking, oh yeah I know them. They’re the guys that make that search engine, right? Then you get a C- for your answer. It turns out, that Google does a whole lot more than just search. Sure, their lightning fast search engine got them on the map and created enviable brand recognition, but to say all Google does is “search” is profoundly inadequate. Google creates a host of freely available software and web-based applications. Why should you care? Because sooner or later you will be using them anyway. That’s right! You heard it here first. Google is taking over. Just like you use Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel, Outlook etc. and don’t know why you chose those applications in the first place, Google is creeping-up on you unsuspectingly in a similar fashion. While today you use their search tool, Google is working diligently to build applications that will make you forget you ever relied on Microsoft for anything other than their OS. Why? Because the applications they are developing are MS Office compatible, web-based, and free. That’s the holy-trinity right there. As the capabilities of the internet expand, and the literacy of its users mature, the needs of computer users have changed. Working and storing your information online is an important feature for many moblie web users and Google has positioned itself to be the company many rely on to deliver such services.

Here is a short list of some of the benefits to using Gmail:

1) Setting up an account is free
2) You can receive emails from multiple sites all in your GMail account.
3) You can access your email remotely from any web connected computer with a browser.
4) You are given 4.5 gigs of space for your account and can ask for more if needed.
5) You can “Google search” your email which means you don’t have to delete or organize anything (in fact they discourage it). Use the power of search to locate emails instantly.
6) Emails in your inbox are presented in what they refer to as “conversations”. That is, all the messages that are in a particular thread are automatically grouped together. So if you send a message, get a response, reply to that response, and get another response, a single line item appears in your inbox with a count of “4”. You can expand and review the whole history of that thread instantly. No more sending copies of email to yourself and then struggling to find them later.
7) Because Google has so many users and has such tremendous search capabilities, SPAM is squelched big time. I use to get at least 4 spam emails a day. After switching to this solution my inbox has been quite lonely because Google can detect spam quite efficiently.
8) GMail can be configured to send email as though it is coming from a different email address. This is called spoofing. A term that has earned a negative reputation over the years. Of course their is good spoofing and bad spoofing. You will be employing the former. Spoofing in this case allows you to sent email from an existing account so that you don’t have to disseminate your new email address information. So say all your friends, family, and business contacts have your Comcast email address and you would rather not tell everyone to update their address books with your new Gmail address (especially not while you are trying this thing out). Gmail can be easily configured to send email from your Comcast address so that from the recipients perspective, your email address has not changed. Spoofing can be done with any email program but I would suspect that most computer users don’t know that.

Anyway, there are a ton of other things that GMail can do for you, I’ve only scratched the surface. But that list should be enough to get you salivating. Do yourself a favor and check out: http://mail.google.com.

Bloggy Carnival Giveaway!

Today Emma turned two-and-a-half. To commemorate this momentous occasion we decided to hold a giveaway in her honor. Since I am a big fan of automation, efficiency, and cycle-time reduction, I want to hear what software products or web-based services you use to get things done. You wanna know what you’re playing for? (Can you tell I love Survivor). Then take a look at the official rules below:

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

What is the prize:
$25 Target Gift Card

How you can win:
Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite tech tip (i.e. any tools or web services you use that make you more efficient and productive). For an example of such services click here.

Who is eligible:
You must have a US mailing address. You don’t have to be a blogger to win, just supply a valid e-mail address (don’t forget to include this or I won’t be able to contact you if you are the winner).

When the giveaway ends:
Friday, April 25. I’ll e-mail the winner on the 26th. If the winner doesn’t respond within four business days, a new winner will be drawn.

The Birthday Party

Last weekend Emma attended her first “Princess/Pirate Themed” Birthday Party at our neighbor’s house. The Princess of honor turned four and is also named Emma. Her parents did a spectacular job and had all sorts of activities. There was a bounce house, treasure hunt, crafts, and outdoor toys. There were cakes, and candies and a huge variety of treats. The children had a fantastic time. Our Emma (who incidentally turns two-and-a-half tomorrow) is still into solo play and loves our neighbors miniature house. She could play in it all day (as you can see in these pictures).

Booster City!

For the last three weeks Emma has been sitting in a booster chair instead of her high-chair. She is really excited about it and will sit in it any chance she gets. She will even watch TV in it. We are starting to look more like a family now with everyone sitting at the table for meals.

Emma’s high chair has not been put into retirement yet as it is still a good place for her to play with her Play dough.

Emma’s Tech Tip – irfanView

So you write your own blog and the most tedious part of you workflow is scaling your pictures down to a size that is more appropriate for web consumption. Photoshop is out of your budget and has more features than you care to look at. You just want to convert your pictures and go. Enter IrfanView. This little tool slices, it dices, it resizes, it converts. How much would you be willing to pay for something like this? $49.99? $59.99? Oh but there’s more! We will throw in batch file conversion so you can resize and resample all your pictures in one fell swoop!

You get the slicer, the dicer, the resizer, the enhancer, and the batch file converter. For the low low price of $29.99. More! More you say! If you act now we will even throw in the “red-eye” reducer, all for the low low price of Free! That’s right boys and girls, this simple to use application is available for free and is the tool I use to quickly convert pictures for my posts. Do you have a better free tool? I want to hear about it.

If you don’t and you are looking for a good tool to help improve your picture conversion workflow head over to IrFanView’s website and download your fully functional free copy today.


Frog Fest 2008

This year we attended Frog Fest 2008. Since we are new to the area and I come from parts where the celebration of Frogs is not the norm I did not know what to expect. What was it that the locals find appealing about frogs that would cause them to hold a whole festival in their honor? We packed our things and left to investigate.

Although we arrived early, the parking lot was already at capacity. A sign directed us a mile and a half down the road to where a very organized crowd patiently awaited the shuttle bus that ferried eager frog-lovers to the festival. We parked our car and joined the family-friendly group that boarded the next bus.

At the park frog-themed stations were set up to educate children (young and old) about the natural and environmental challenges frogs face. Although frogs were the creature of honor at this event, it was clear that it was designed to create awareness as to the consequences of human actions on the environment and the animals that live in it.

[Read more…]

She Blinded Me With Science

Anytime I am working on a project around the house, Emma will drop whatever she is doing and become my new best friend. Last Sunday I decided that it would be fun if we worked on a science project together. I chose a project that had minimal parts, an arts & crafts component, and that could be completed in a relatively short period of time. The project comes courtesy of Jose Pino who wrote the instructions in Make Magazine. I know what you are thinking, what kind of a project is that for a two and a half year old. Hey Daddy needs love too! There’s only so much coloring and Play dough a man can take.

In any event, the project took a little longer than expected (Emma got fixated on the scissors and just wanted to cut paper). I put her to bed and the next day we completed the project. The sound was better than I would have suspected but there is always room for improvement. I didn’t have any Styrofoam plates so I substituted some leak-proof paper plates (cause that’s all we had). The dangerous components to this project are the N50 grade neodymium magnets which are ridiculously powerful and brittle. They will pinch your fingers pretty bad if you bring two together and if they collide can shatter (The ones I bought were coated in nickel to give them strength). They will also damage electronic equipment, magnetic media, etc. if waved too close. Needless to say, you need to keep these things away from anything that you love.

If you are curious as to how good the sound reproduction can be with a paper plate I have uploaded an audio sample that I recorded with a stereo audio recorder:

Play that funky paper-plate music white-boy

Tall Capuccino Half-Shot Wet…

And a Grande Double Mocha Cafe Latte for my Dad please. What can I say? The girl is particular about her coffee. If you are gonna survive in this world you gotta know how to order your coffee.

Go! Diego Go!

On March 21st we took Emma to see “Go! Diego Go!” at the Convention Center. It was a live performance and Emma really enjoyed the show. This picture was taken outside prior to the performance.