The Furthest Visitor

With all this information at my fingertips I thought I would start a new feature here, The Furthest Visitor. I'll run a weekly query and determine, very scientifically, the furthest locale from which someone accessed this blog.

According to Google Analytics, the visitor who has read my blog from the furthest away in the past week did so from, Sydney, Australia (9168 miles [14755 km] from De Forest, WI).

Sydney is the state capital and most populous city of the Australian state of New South Wales, as well as Australia's largest and oldest city (founded in 1788). With a urban area population of about 4.3 million (2005) and a population of approximately 146,297 people in the city centre (known as the "City of Sydney"), the Sydney metropolis is the largest financial, transport, trade and cultural centre in Australia, rivaled only by its slightly smaller, sister-city of Melbourne.

This isn't the first visitor I've noticed from Down Under, I've also seen visits on more than one occasion attributed to Flemington, Victoria, Austrailia.

The runner up visited from Quezon City near Manila (8012 miles [12894 km] from De Forest, WI), in the Phillipines.

Quezon City is the former capital and the most populous city in the Philippines. Located on the island of Luzon, Quezon City is one of the cities and municipalities that comprise Metro Manila, the National Capital Region. The city was named after Manuel L. Quezon, the former president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines who founded the city and developed it to replace Manila as the country's capital.

If you're reading from a far off land or from one of the locations noted above email me.

The distances were gathered from Indo.com's "How Far is It?"


Witty Marketing

No, this is not an endorsement. I caught this ad on a website tailored towards sports fans. Know your customers, eh?


My Christmas Eve in the back of a police cruiser.

We had an uneventful Christmas Eve Day. We lounged around the house, took a nap and watched a television program on The Christmas Truce, which is in and of itself an interesting story.

Looking back there is a string of events that lead to us being where we were, when we were. In no particular order here is a list of some events that changed the timing of our evening:

* The whole process of making our dish to pass took much longer than it needed to.
* I made the decision to bring soda, and to stop at Amoco near the house to get said soda.
* The gentleman in line at the register in front of us, who looked remarkably like Green Bay Packer Defensive Lineman Grady Jackson, was waiting for his son to pick out some candy. He let us checkout in front of him.

We pulled out of Amoco and up to the stop sign. A car had pulled up to the intersection to our right just a moment before we did. I waited patiently for them to go, after 10-15 seconds I decided they were yielding the right-of-way. They decided to go at the same time so I stopped and let them through. With that turn of events we wound up following the car instead of leading it. Luckily, in this case.

The car bounced between the center line and the shoulder. In the next mile and a half the car crossed the center line and moments later drove with the shoulder lane marker nearly halving the vehicle. We decided that the driver probably shouldn't be driving and called 911.

While I was on the phone with the 911 operator we came upon a church service letting out. Thankfully, the result was only a few nervous moments. I began to close in on the vehicle to get a license plate. Up ahead the speed limit dropped and the two vehicles ahead of the erratic driver slowed down expectedtly. The car in question did not slow down as fast as the vehicle directly in front of him and struck the vehicle. The victim pulled over to the left shoulder, I subsequently learned that nobody was hurt in the incident.

Instead of pulling over the erratic driver took off and zipped though the nearest subdivision. We followed the driver trying to keep a safe distance and named each road as we passed to the 911 operator. On more than one occassion the suspect vehicle sped of as if he were being chased. The first time he took off, I noticed that after a hill I saw a glow of tail lights, brake lights.

The thought crossed my mind that he may know that he was being followed and turn around to retaliate. Oddly though, he followed this pattern of speeding up and then coming to an almost complete stop three times.

In the end we followed him in a large loop coming back to a block from the scene of the original incident. The car pulled into a driveway and the driver got out of the car. Not wanting to be spotted we drove up 3/4 mi and turned around. We got the address of the house and fed it to the 911 operator.

Just as the operator got the address we noticed a squad car racing towards the house and then past. We turned in the same direction as the squad which was now turning around and coming back towards us. I rolled my window down and directed him toward the suspect car.

The operator gave me some instructions, thanked me and hung up. I gave a deputy my statement and after nearly 20 minutes in the back of the squad car we were off to our annual gathering at the Crowne Plaza to celebrate Christmas with my mother's family.

So, things fell into place. We did a good deed and have a story to tell. Nobody was physically hurt. The downside being that the suspect driver hid in his house and the cops didn't have cause to enter the house. Therefore they weren't able to deal with him tonight.


Doc Martins Back door

Doc Martins Back door
Originally uploaded by jremsikjr.
I took the camera to lunch with me on Friday since we were going to the Orpheum Theatre on State Street for the blue-gill lunch special.

There is a vandalized sign that is never cleaned, fixed or removed. Despite the fact that this in no longer in-fact Martins Back Door.

After passing this sign for 5 years the opportunity arose finally to photograph it. It's mildly amusing and the shot came out pretty good. Add-in a little Picasa post-processing-black-and-white-magic and you get what you see here.


November - December Analytics

November - December Analytics
Originally uploaded by jremsikjr.
Here's a look at the executive overview provided by Google Analytics. This is a quick view of the visitors to your website. You can see the obvious drop off as a result of fewer posts in the last month or so.


[Good Idea] Ask if the email sender if they want to save the recipients in their contact list.

[Bad Idea] Prevent them from saving contact info if that user uses a competitor's free web based email

Here's an approximation of the display:

Your message has been sent to (the following recipients). Would you like to add them to your contacts list?:

babixl@yahoo.xom [can not add]
nostil_p@yahoo.xom [can not add]
hkremsik@hotmail.xom [Already a Hotmail Contact]


Sharing the Season ... [Update1]

The response my earlier post about helping out a family in need as been tremendous. Jen and I went out last weekend and purchased a large number of items on the wish list that was given to us by the Community Action Coalition of South Central Wisconsin.

I just got off of the phone with the mother of the family and she is ecstatic that her kids will have items to open Christmas morning. She wasn't as concerned about herself or her husband but, I think she'll be very happy with the JC Penney's family portrait gift certificate that my parents, Jen and I have put together. In addition a large part of my family has put together a surprising number of gifts and clothes for the kids.

The father asked for work boots and the youngest daughter snow shoes, so we got them matching Stanley work boots, the little pair with a zipper down the side for easy on/off.

We plan to drop stuff off this Wednesday. It should be fun for all involved.


WikiBooks: the open-content textbooks collection

What a great idea. There is a metric ton of information out there that doesn't belong in an encyclopedia but, have strong user communities willing if not wanting to share this stuff.

Essentially, this provides groups of people to collaboratively write books. I stumbled across this as I was looking for more information on a Python module and found Programming: Python.

See also:
Learn Mandarin Chinese
International Cookbook
GuitarSpace Invaders (The Textbook)


Last Mammal Standing

OK. Who wins this battle? Female Bull Terrier or Porcupine?

The answer? Neither but one of them "survives" (Warning Explicit Content, It's safe for work but shocking in nature). I caught this on, of all places, The Naval Safety Center's Photo of the Week.

The Terrier named Inca apparently took exception to a porcupine that sauntered up to the home of her and two other dogs. She bore her stubborn terrier attitude and didn't lay off until the porcupine was dead. Inca paid a hell of a price, though. Reportedly she made it through with only pain meds and anti-biotics, amazing.

Are you a cynical bastard that doesn't believe anything you see on the internet? I submit for your approval (or not) that Snopes researched the story and found it to be true.

Sharing the Season ...

We contacted several organizations about volunteer work this Christmas season. We didn't get much response, indeed only the Community Action Coalition of South Central Wisconsin got back to us. The CACSCW works with folks that are, or recently were, homeless to get them back on their feet.

They, much like other organizations, have a sponsor a family event. After playing some phone tag we finally were offered a family.

The Doe's (name with-held to protect their privacy) were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We don't have their whole story which is likely a little scary while also fascinating. It would be interesting to know whether they are re-locating to Wisconsin permanently or if they even had much of a choice.

Anyway, Jen was really excited when she finally received the information. They are modest requests, really. Mr. Doe wants work boots and thermals, the temperature change has to be one helluva shock but it's just one more thing. Mrs. Doe wants a family portrait and scrapbooking tools (trying to rebuild the memories lost?). They've got two daughters one of five years and the other eightteen months. The kids have "asked" for diapers, barbies, and learning toys.

Mr. Doe also asked for "sports stuff" (football: Saints). I suggested to Jen that we purchase otherwise identical Green Bay Packer and Saints items and repackage the Saints gear in the Packers box. She said that would be mean. :)

We'd love to have any donations or refer folks to the CACSCW if anyone else is interested in helping out. I'll keep posting on the progress as we get nearer to Christmas. Stay tuned.

See Also:
A Katrina-themed Christmas
My Katrina: An American Refugee
CubbieGirl: Can you help?


Spammers adapt again ...

It shouldn't be news to anyone that people are trying to abuse your website to sell viagra, market a pyramid scheme, or invite your visitors to some insidious site. This was particularly popular among Slashdot trolls** who would link to websites containing things you didn't know were possible, beyond your imagination in the worst sort of way. (**I hesitate to link to this article and highly recommend that you not click on any links without thinking about whether you want to see something horrible. It's not worth it.)

So, where were we? Ahh, yes the spammers have a new tactic that is using the system which is in place to help you find information and abusing it to promote their own sites or that of their customers. By creating members, with profile links to bad places, in forums that are spidered by search engines these sites are linked from high-trafficked sites with "normal" content. This boosts their relative search rankings and leaves you with less effective searches and more face-time with scams.

If you are the administrator of a community or even a devote user, Read the article. Understand the current wave of "silent spam" and do what you can to make it go away.


Caveat venditor - A follow-up article on the PriceRitePhoto.com saga

You saw it here: Caveat Emptor: PriceRitePhoto (AKA C&A Marketing, TheCameraMall.com).

Now the Denver Post follows up with a summary story which is nowhere near as interesting. Despite an "Apologetic E-mail" from PriceRitePhoto.com owner Ed Lopez, and the assurance that this was an isolated incident and the employee will be terminated it still leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouths.

See Also:
Are TheCameraMall and PriceRitePhoto (and EmpirePhoto.com) the Same Company?

Reseller Ratings: PriceRitePhoto

Santa's checking his list, Cashiers should watch their barcodes ...

Nice: Mac Bedor

Naughty: Jonathan Baldino

Baldino was detained by Target security personnel after making an age old mistake of being greedy. The 19-year-old University of Colorado electrical-engineering student made faux barcodes (with Barcode Magic) and applied them to an Apple iPod for a $225 discount. He got away with it too, once, he might have made it out of the store twice, If it weren't for those meddling security agents and their dog.

The story ends with a sad plea for forgiveness due to ineptitude. Either he's not right in the head or he's just a whiny brat.

Big brother is watching you pee.

A principal, Howard Fore, at Jasper County Comprehensive School placed a video camera in the ceiling to combat vandalism in the boys restroom.

An eighth grader, Mac Bedor, removed the camera and took it home to show his mother. Now, he has been suspended for "taking school property."

Apparently, cameras in public school bathrooms are legal because schools have more leeway on privacy issues. Not only are children going to be paranoid about bullys in the bathroom but, whether their private business is going to end up on the internet.

Good job kid. Go do something fun with your day off school.


Caveat Emptor: PriceRitePhoto (AKA C&A Marketing, TheCameraMall.com)

Caveat Emptor. The link above is to the unfortunate story of Thomas Hawk who just wanted to get a good deal on a camera. He did his homework and waited until the unit was in his price range. The retailer was rated on Yahoo! Shopping with four stars after 858 reviews. Just enough that I probably wouldn't have done too much more looking into the retailer. It all went down hill from there. There are credit card companies, Yahoo!'s Director of Marketing, "Police", "FBI" and "Lawyers" involved and it's a good lesson to remember as we are in the Holiday Shopping Season.

Check it out. It's the most Digg'ed story of the year, and this is November. ;)

See also:
Sleazy Online Camera Sellers And The Digg Death Penalty

Danger: PriceRitePhoto/USAPhotoNation

The Right to Bear Cameras


Google Analytics Slashdots Itself

See my other post for a description of Google Analytics.

To: Me

From: The Google Analytics Team

Subject: Google Analytics: Service Announcement

Hello Google Analytics User,

This is a quick update to address some issues you may be seeing in your Google Analytics account and what we're doing to respond.

First, due to extremely high demand, we've temporarily limited the number of new signups as we increase capacity. This allows us to focus on our primary objective--to provide a great user experience for our existing users.

Next, here is current information on the most common questions we're receiving:

1. The 'Check Status' button is being reworked to check for properly installed tracking code. This should be fixed by the end of November.

2. The '+Add Profile' link has been temporarily removed until we increase capacity. We'll alert all current users when the feature is restored.

3. While we increase capacity, you may see longer than normal delays in data showing up in your reports. All data continues to be collected and no data has been lost.

For additional help with your Google Analytics account, we encourage you to browse or search our online Help Center at http://www.google.com/support/analytics?hl=en.

Thanks for your patience as we improve Google Analytics and add resources to ensure a high-quality service.


The Google Analytics Team

It always feels like ... somebody's watching me.

About a week ago I saw a post that mentioned Google Analytics.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics shows you how people found your site, how they explored it, and how you can enhance the visitor experience. Improve your website return on investment, increase conversions, and make more money on the web.

With over 80 reports, your free Google Analytics account will track visitors through your site, and will keep track of the performance of your marketing campaigns - whether they're AdWords campaigns, email campaigns, or any other advertising program. With this information, you'll know which keywords are really working, which ad text is the most effective, and where your visitors are dropping off during the conversion process. Don't be fooled by the fact that this functionality is available to you for free - Google Analytics is a full-featured, powerful analytics package.

It's been so popular that they've had to limit new sign-ups as they increase capacity. It's a multi-user system as well. If anyone is curious and would like to see inside I'll grant view rights to those that ask. The only requirement is that you need a Google Account, and you need to include that in your request to me.

This is the fruition of the purchase of urchin by Google.

So, What exactly is so cool about GA? There are stats about unique visitors, pageviews, and content optimization. The ability to add multiple users and create and monitor goals are also present. But, the single thing that's got me checking GA each day is the geographic overview. It tells me from which part of the world my viewers are coming from. While I am not surprised that south central Wisconsin is leading the way I am surprised by the traffic from Plano, TX; Rancho Cucamonga, CA; Redmond, WA (Hmmm?); and a fairly surprising number or hits from Europe in cities such as Jönköping, Sweden; Grenoble, Douneau, and Vincennes, France; as well as Lisbon Portugal.

The graph of new vs. returning visitors is surprising if only to me. 60% of my visitors are new... hmm, I should just post a screen-capture...

There, click through for a larger (readable) view.


"Wax On, Wax Off" Pat Morita dead at 73

Pat Morita

1932 - 2005

You probably best know Noriyuki Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid (Part II, Part III, The Next Karate Kid) film franchise. Some of you might also remember his as Arnold from Happy Days. Noriyuki, Pat, Mr. Miyagi, if you will, passed away at his home from natural causes.

Here's a bit of trivia for you:

Ralph Macchio played The Karate Kid, which oscar-award-winning actress played The Next Karate Kid?

Give up?

Hillary Swank. Go figure.

HerbieJP says: Morita's "wise" acting techniques paved his path to success on Earth. Here's knowing his reputation in Hollywood as one of the nicest actors in the business did the same for his journey to "Heaven."

Alex Blagg takes a light-hearted approach with his obit for Kesuke Miyagi

Matthew says: To this day, whenever I pretend to know Karate, I always shout out “Wax on, wax off!” as I defend imaginary blows from a ferocious attacker (Yeah, I need to get a life).

Thanks for the memories.

Rest in peace, Mr. Miyagi.


Love Photograpy AND Legos?

If you love photography AND legos you are not alone. Although chances are you probably don't have the passion or the time of one Adrian Hanft, III.

Adrian's blog is a showcase for his tinkering. The output is not only some awesome photography and not one, not two, but three different lego cameras (35mm, Medium Format Pinhole, Polaroid 95a).

Very cool.

The result is a very ethereal looking photograph.


Awesome Christmas Light Display

Three caveats:
* It's Video.
* Pretend it's after thanksgiving.
* Ignore the "quirky" anchor Amanda Congdon

Now for the coolest Christmas Light Display you will see linked from this blog this week.

Rest in Peace, Sam (& Zippy, Too)

Sam: The World's Ugliest Dog

Sam, a pure-bred chinese crested and three time winner of the
'World's ugliest' dog contest has passed away at the age of 14 years (that's 98 in dog years).

Zippy, another contestant in the World's Ugliest Dog arena and also a chinese crested followed Sam just a day later.

There remains the possiblity that a new breed of younger uglier dogs is out there waiting to be discovered but, I find it hard to fathom we'll see as ugly snouts as we did on Sam and Zippy, nor could they be more loved.

What does the blogosphere say?

Brit Blogger Says:

[takes off hat... *sniff*]

farewell Sam, may your ugly mug grace the halls of doggie heaven.

Persian Guy Says:
Rest in Peace little guy

Jessa Jeffries says:
The time has come for us all to mourn him. The most glorious of all God's creatures.
And so, in his memory I ask you all to share a Good Bye Sam Haiku.

watch over us all
from your ugly cloud above
and go scare jesus
~Silent Matt

Forests paying the price for biofuels

It appears you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

With rising fuel costs and a prescription to reduce green house gas emissions worldwide people are turning to green energy. This has potentially devastating implications for the world's rainforests that produce the palm and soya plants which each yield oils commonly used in bio-diesel and other alternative energies. It's a disappointing realization that, in hindsight appears so, obvious.


Doodle 4 Google

Doodle 4 Google is one way that Google let's you know that they haven't completely lost their soul as a company.

Big corporations could learn alot about image preservation from Google who arguably could, and some say are, becoming an evil empire without looking like one.


ABC7Chicago.com: Randomly assigned license plate found objectionable

Poor Bastard.

Imagine if your license plates arrived in the mail and declared you the anti-christ.

Heh. The funny thing is if you requested this same combination of letters it would probably be denied.

Taking designs from nature...

It's often said that to find inspired design ideas, one need only look at nature... or nature artists in this case.
Firefox logo 'inspired' by a work by Georgia O'Keefe

Invisible foil hats: Fourth image down from the top.

I was reading through some old posts last night and came across this one. The nice thing about having a blog is being able to go back and look at some of the crazy stuff you've done. At least the crazy stuff you were willing to own up to doing in the first place.

MAKE: Blog: Beck video with Sony QRIOs now live...

MAKE: Blog: Beck video with Sony QRIOs now live...

The QRIOs are Sony's dancing robots that were on display about a year ago. If you saw the initial video you've got the idea. Beck appears as one of several transparent-blue images on a screen behind the robots as they dance for what appears to be a crowd of Japanese reporters.

I've dug Beck since Odelay, I'm partial to "Where It's At" for the lyrical genius that it is, and although this isn't quite on par with his best work it's still pretty good.


Stupid Political Games

Rice brokers Gaza border crossing deal
Condoleezza Rice, the American secretary of state, has helped secure an agreement between Israel and Palestine to open the Gaza Strip's borders. After all-night negotiations, Ms Rice announced that the main ...

Ugh, could they be more obvious that Condi is going to run for the presidency in '08? The picture looks like Deb took it in her basement while waiting for Uncle Rico to get there. The flag in the background, the makeover to soften her image, I wouldn't be surprised if she was told to think of seahorses to get her to relax. Not that I have anything against Rice, it's just annoying that the think the public isn't going to recognize the obvious efforts to presidentialize the candidates.


Homemade Flame Thrower

Holy Cow!

I'd build the "ultimate super soaker" version of it if I thought I could restrain myself from actually trying it as a flamethrower.


Wikipedia, Rocks!

Where else can you find the meaning of the term FIB?

CSSVista Review

Grade: Incomplete

I got CSSVista installed yesterday, here at work we already had copies of the Windows Installer 3.0 and the .Net Framework 2.0.

CSSVista delivers just what it offers:

"edit your CSS code live in both Internet Explorer and Firefox simultaneously."

This is very cool and could be extremely helpful in some cases. However, if it's not in that sentence, it's not in the software. The File menu has one option: Exit. The View menu has one toggle: Split View. The Tools menu, the most robust of the three contains these options: Edit CSS, Automatic CSS Refreshing (in other words, Live! Refreshing of the output).

There is no option to Save your work without copying and pasting it to your favorite editor. There is no context menu, no right-click copy.

I'm an avid reader of 37Signal's blog Signal v. Noise and understand less.

I will be watching CSSVista, because as Nathan Pitman says "I think this liitle application has some great potential!".


Candy Order Form

It's that time of year again. Anyone interested in ordering candy should return a completed order form, available in PDF & Excel formats. We will be taking orders for candy until January. Just a reminder, we do get busy around the holidays. If you want orders for Thanksgiving or Christmas submit them early to ensure delivery by the desired date.

If you have any questions let me know or post a comment here.

CSSVista Launched

CSSVista: Live CSS editing with Internet Explorer and Firefox simultaneously

How cool is that?

Downsides: WinXP only. A myriad of dependencies you're not likely to have installed on your machine (.Net Framework 2, Windows Installer 3). The latter dependecy requires Genuine Windows Validation, "hmm what's that?" I wondered.

Oh! You have to actually have a legally licensed version of WindowsXP and be able to prove it for the install to work.

Does it matter if your copy of Windows is genuine? Yes, if you want the confidence of knowing that your software is legitimate and fully supported. And only genuine Windows customers can receive product downloads, Windows updates and special offers.



Mozilla Extension: IE Tab

Mozilla Update :: Extensions -- More Info:IE Tab - All Releases

IE View always open IE-only pages in newly launched windows of Internet Explorer, IE Tab can open them in tabs of Mozilla/Firefox.


Friends of Bob & Tom Comedy Tour

Last night we went to the Friends of Bob & Tom Comedy Tour featuring:

David Crowe ****
Greg 'Flute-man' Warren ***
Mike Birbiglia *****
Auggie Smith *

(*'s = iTunes style ratings)

It was a great night of comedy. David Crowe was the opening act and acted as host for the remainder of the show, he was a pleasant surprise as I didn't recognize his name. Mike Birbiglia stole the show in my opinion. He looked absolutely comfortable on stage and delivered laugh after laugh (highly recommended). Auggie Smith got caught up in the smoking ban, which appeased a lot of the audience so despite the equine death he kept whipping. Flute-man is Flute-man not much more, still funny though.

Although much of their best material can be heard on Bob & Tom, if you go the the Friends of Tour you get to hear them deliver their jokes without Bob, Tom, Christy, and Chick drowning them in their live laugh-track.


Washing Sacks, Great Idea, Name needs work.

This would make me dread laundry less. We often let our baskets fill up until we have to do laundry. At least some of us would allow that to happen.


Schotzy's Bath
Originally uploaded by brykmantra.
The flickrDogs photogroup on flickr (and flickrDogs.com) is updated near daily and usually has a great picture like this one.

PowerSquid Outlet Multiplier

Here is an idea whose time has come.

PowerSquid Outlet Multiplier, it's a powerstrip without the strip!

Add this to my christmas list.


Ha, ha!

This is entertaining even if you are a Bush supporter.


Cash, Money

Some of you may have noticed the advertisements at the top of this page.

I thought I would give the big G's ad service a try. By my estimate after approximately one week I've made $0.365 for each click-through on an ad. This is a small set that may not be valid as the data grow but, it's interesting to watch. It's also one way to monitor traffic on your site. It does not, however, provide any metrics other than page counts.

Apple's Aperture

I am quickly falling in love with Aperture from Apple. Two impediments lie in the way my using Aperture.

1. Aperture is Mac Only, I don't have a Mac.

I've consiered getting a Mac to play with for a while, the most recent lure being the MacMini. I'm ascared that the MacMini isn't going to be able to handle Aperture or the other cool stuff I'd want to do with a mac.

2. $499 Price Tag.

I've been using Picasa for quite some time. It definitely gets the job done. It's got a nice feature-set, it's available on Windows, oh and it's free. I'd like to think that eventually Picasa won't be enough, or at least annoy me into a splurge. Unfortunately, it's a nice... free.. photo manager.

DP Review's List of Aperture features.


This pic was snapped automatically by a camera triggered at the launch of my run. If only we had a way to do this with say RC cars and a certain track. *nudgegarrettnudgegarrettwinkgarrettwink*


Zoom Zoom Live!

Saturday, Chris and I went to the Mazda Zoom Zoom Live! Event in the suburbs of Chicago. What is a Zoom Zoom Live! Event? Mazda provides cars (MAZDA3, MAZDA5, MAZDA6, MX-5 Miata, RX-8) from the current model year for event participants to Test Drive.

The test drives are unique in that they are full challenge courses. The MX-5 Miata was featured in two courses the Jinba Ittai challenge and the Performance challenge. Jinba Ittai translates to "Rider and Horse as One", this course was a slow-speed precision driving test. A mechanism is attached to the hood of the vehicle consisting of a deep bowl and a shallow bowl with three golf balls in the shallow bowl. The goal being to complete the course as quickly as possible while avoiding the penalty incurred by losing the golf balls out of the shallow bowl.

The performance challenge, as you might guess, is an all out autocross course designed to put the Miata through it's paces. The target time was 37.5. Chris turned the faster time between the two of us at 38.3 but hit a cone nearly equaling my time of 39.425. The rematch although an option never happened because of the one hour wait. We got to meet Stu Hayner (pictured here in glasses) although I had know idea who he was Chris recognized him from the SpeedWorld challenge series as well as many other series.

The gymkhana challenge is a skills test, race the course and match the target time exactly. This event also offered the largest variet of cars in the MAZDA3, MAZDA5, and MAZDA6. Using Chris' stopwatch we got close and each earned 25 prize points by getting within a half second of the target 26 seconds. It was a fun challenge but, the one and a half hour plus wait was ridiculous.

Our first event and the final I'll describe was the School of Zoom. This event wasn't timed nor were points awarded simply take a 2006 RX-8 and enjoy it on a large autocross course after listening to a 5 minute lecture about proper braking, accelerating, and apexing. It was over in a flash but, it was fun.

At the end of the day we left with some Mazda propaganda and some give-aways (Hat, pen, t-shirts etc). And the price tag on this day of driving sports cars? Nada. That's one way to make fans.


Sulu comes out of the closet.

George Takei, Sulu of Star Trek fame, announced in Frontiers a bi-weekly (heh) magazine covering the gay and lesbian community that he is gay.

I've read posts today in the blogosphere suggesting he should have come out in a more relavant time in his career. Fuck that! He spent four years in a U.S. internment camp. He went on to a great career in television on one of the more diverse shows of the time. The message of the show was exploration and befriending those who accept you. Sure it's just Star Trek but, he likely has done more in three seasons to teach tolerance than you have in a comparable period of time.

As Mawopi says You go girl.



We had dinner and saw off the last of the out-of-town relatives last night.

One thing about funerals: They are incredibly draining.

There is all the emotion in losing a loved one. Seeing relatives from near and far. The drama involved in getting a large family together. The outlaws, inlaws, and castaways and the strange faces of newcomers.

A couple bright spots from the whole experience.

Family portrait style pictures were arranged at the visitation with a star photographer, me. We grabbed folks before they went into to say goodbye, trying to avoid the red and puffy crowd coming out of the visitation room. Uncle Jim and his father got their picture taken. They didn't have a current, if ever, photo of themselves together. Using Walgreens' online photo application I had 4" x 6" prints of the photos available at the funeral the next day. Emails were collected and directions sent allowing family members to order bigger prints or duplicates.

Speaking of my Uncle Jim being around all this family reminded me how un-creative my family is with names. Here's one example:

James (Jim) Patrick Conway [Grandfather]
James (Jim) Allen Conway [Uncle]
James (Jim) Patrick Conway [Cousin]
James (Jim) Richard Remsik [Father]
James (Jim) Richard Remsik Jr [Me]

Of course when it comes to nicknames:

Jim Conway [Grandfather] = Scotty
Jim Conway [Uncle] = (Dammit?) Jim
Jim Conway [Cousin] = Bones

Now if Dad and I were nicknamed "Sulu" and "Spock" we'd be on to something.


Later, Lu

My grandmother passed away on Thursday.

The aneurysm on her aorta began to seep. Thankfully, my parents made it up from Florida in time to say goodbye.

She spent three days at St. Mary's hospital here in Madison. She had been surrounded by family and after a sudden loss of blood pressure earlier in the day she seemed to improve.

Enough so, she regained her color.

Enough so, that those with errands to run felt comfortable leaving.

Enough so, we started giving my aunt, Wanda, a hard time about being a southern redneck (which she is).

Enough so, we were surprised when my aunt Sherri pointed out that she wasn't breathing.

I appreciate people's thoughts and if there is anything you can do I'll let you know. There isn't of course, I don't even know what I can do, but I realize the people that are reading this would offer.

It'll be a rough couple days as arrangements are made and services held. Then life will carry on as usual, only without "Grandma Lu".


Campbell's Annual Click For Cans, Feed the homeless and support your favorite NFL team.

The Packers' fans are currently leading the vote at a 3-1 margin...

Get your vote in, daily. That is of course if you are voting for the Packers. ;)



Jen and I, finally, got to take our balloon flight. It was worth the wait. Our pilot was Jerry from Gentle Breezes.


Just cool.

Up, Up and a flame.

Just after take-off we got a wonderful view of "The Oaks" golf course.

During our attempt to brush treetops.


We had an awesome night of weather for mid-October.

Guess who.

The "valve" on the inside of the balloon.

Tearing down the balloon.

Deflation.Is that Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette?

Packing up.

Sunset at the champaign toast.


For John

Toolbar tweaks

Internet Explorer's toolbars are very configurable. Entire toolbars can be moved and resized, toolbar buttons can be moved, removed and resized, and button descriptions can be turned on or off.

Before moving or resizing Internet Explorer toolbars, we first need to right-click a toolbar and make sure that the option Lock Toolbars is turned off (older browsers will not have a lock toolbar ability).

Internet Explorer toolbars have drag handles. Depending on what version of Windows you are using, the drag handles will either be a subtle vertical line of dots, or a raised vertical bar. Rest your cursor over a drag handle (it will change into a horizontal cursor with an arrow head at either end), then, hold down the left mouse button and simply drag each toolbar to where you want it to be. The same drag handles are used to resize a toolbar.

Ready to drag

Ready to drag


Still no Hot Air Balloon ride ...

Our Hot Air Balloon ride was cancelled again on Sunday morning, presumably due to weather but, we still haven't called the guy to reschedule. :(


My Mom: "Jimmy, when did you get so tall?"

This is a candid shot of my sister, Samantha.

This is my nephew Riley. We stopped over to my parents house yesterday for a birthday/going away party. My parents are going back down to Florida tomorrow morning. They wanted to have cake and ice cream for the folks that have birthdays while they are out of town.

He does not have dry skin, those are mashed potatoes. :)

A "welder's finger" from a forum post on WeldingWeb.com by wrenchit. Simple design but, really useful. This might be my first project once I get the welder up and running.


Nice poster, maybe?

When you say WIS-COS-NIN you've pretty much said it all.

Close-up of the backfield. Pre-snap.

John Stocco, Are his eyes closed?

This picture was taken for Jen. Her favorite NFL player also happened to be a Badger Alumnus and on-site, Al Toon (left) is pictured here with Randy Wright and another guy. Something about a bounce pass. ;)

Can I point out how tall the man is? Randy Wright is no slouch and Toons belt is closer to his chest than his waist. Now, I know some of you are going to point out the perspective etc. Take a look at the the knee to waist ratio. That's no illusion.

Tuba? or not Tuba?

As previously reported Gary McFall is serving 5-10 in the meduim security facility affectionately known as "The Tye-Dye Pen." Either that or he is a volunteer brat cook at Rocky's on Regent.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Our Hot Air Balloon Ride was cancelled again this morning. The winds aloft were blowing at a brisk 20 MPH. Too fast to be safe on an otherwise ideal morning. We have re-scheduled again for next Sunday morning.

Location! Location! Location!

On an average day Jen will drop me off and drive the remaining 5 miles on her own. I had seen the sunrise over Monona Bay about 10 times recently on days which I wanted/needed the car. Each time I looked in the back seat and cringed because I had left the camera at home and missed another photo opportunity.

On Friday I looked into the backseat again only this time I saw the camera.

These sunrise pictures are the result.

Running hot ...

Nicknamed: Sunrise at 20MM

... and cold.

A striking contrast at just 30 degrees away from the sunrise is this isthmus skyline. Post-processed to enhance the cool feel.


Creating Passionate Users: Think Young

As I look around work I see alot of the IT folk have desks full of toys. And the stuffy "business" people with desks full of stacks of paper no doubt think we should grow up. They're just grouchy because they continue to grow old.

It would be a sad day if we're not allowed to "play" at work anymore.


Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

"Live 2 Tell," a script written by late rapper Tupac "2Pac" Shakur, is being developed as a feature film, with shooting set to begin in March.


Zoom Zoom

Chris pointed out that Mazda is having a Zoom Zoom Live event in Chicago, IL (actually, Arlington Heights, IL). The basic format, as I understand it, is they provide the vehicles (2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata), teach you some basic driving techniques and then let you loose on a small section of a course to practice braking, apexing, etc. Then there is a final timed run of the whole course.

The event date is 10/29-10/30. We're signing up for the 10/29 11:30 AM slot.

Anyone interested in joining us can use the link above to register.


What Business Can Learn from Open Source

Paul Graham has hit the nail on the head although I would suggest the title should be "What Employees Can Learn from Open Source."

He suggests there are three things to learn from Open Source:

(1) that people work harder on stuff they like,
(2) that the standard office environment is very unproductive, and
(3) that bottom-up often works better than top-down.

1. Duh.

The analogy of a child being told what to do and the postal workers in a mid-sized city is spot on. I've visited several post offices in Madison and been greeted by near zombies. Whereas I took my taxes to a small post office 10 mi. north of the village I live in and was greeted with a hearty "Hello There!" and a smile. Of course I had to wait until 8:45 AM instead of 7:30 AM in Madison but, it was obvious that the postal worker was much happier.

2. Duh.

There is a reason why the average developer loathes meetings and pays a premium for noise-cancelling headphones. Don't even get me started on the topic temperature and overall comfort. :@

3. Wha? Oh, Duh.

The top down model analogy Graham uses mentions an editor who assigns a story and then edits it. He is correct in that model is long gone and has been replaced by a model more akin to a trickle-up filter. A good idea is created and slowly passed up the ladder becoming more "mainstream" and less innovative at each step. The product is more of the same, safe, static ideas that have worked before.

The best real-world example of this is Hollywood. Can you imagine trying to pitch the Blair Witch Project? The insurance costs alone of risking heartattacks and whatnot would kill the idea. And is it any surprise that the big moviehouse backed BWP 2 failed miserably? Not to me...


Our Hot Air Balloon Ride ...

We received a call at 1:30PM on Sunday. Due to rain and inclement weather our Hot Air Balloon ride was postponed.

Our new flight time has us meeting at a pre-arranged location at 6AM Saturday morning. From there we will be driven to the take-off site. We'll go up between 1000 and 2500 ft for 1-1.25 hours. At touchdown the balloon will be packed up and we will be taken back to our vehicle.

The early flight was our choice although I still don't know why. ;)

My niece, Rianne, came over on Saturday to be babysat. Her mom was cashing in on her mother's day gift of a massage and pedicure.

She found the Growling Tiger flashlight.

And then she dug through the dog's toys. Wrinkles and Hanna are great babysitters. They wore her out to the point she asked if she could take a nap. Of course she asked in a roundabout manner on our way back from lunch and stopping by the DeForest Car Show.

Rianne: Where are your pyjamas?

Jen: They're at home.

Rianne: You gonna put them on?

Jen: When it gets dark out.


Jen: Do you want to take a nap on the couch when we get back?

Rianne: Yeah ... with the doggies.


Critical Section - The Tyranny of Email

Anyone reading this already knows all this, here is a refresher course.

Critical Section - The Tyranny of Email

FIBs brought down the DFI website

A power surge yesterday knocked out power to the downtown Madison area. As I sat at my desk the lights went out followed shortly by the computers, air handlers and other powered systems. Having not much else to do I walked around the floor. A group of people were gathered outside the server room peering through the window.

What could possibly be so interesting? It was raining in our server room. Literally a spring-shower had developed over the server-racks.

I grabbed Garrett and Tim and we went to offer any help we could. The immediate concern was a stream of water pouring through one rack of servers. We needed something to collect water that was no more than 6" tall. The equipment room happened to hold two punch bowls that worked perfectly.

Garbage bags were split to use as tarps to cover machines.

Trash cans littered the floor capturing water.

A valve was finally located that stopped the water. It was an input line to the humidifier. An Illinois valve had failed. Instead of closing when the power went out, it stayed wide open.

Once things calmed down reports began to pour in:

The building across the street is on fire.

There's a car fire in the state law library

Smoke is pouring out from the parking ramp at DFI.

All the symptoms were cause by the power outage.


ye: Definition and Much More


ye: Definition and Much More From Answers.com: "ye1 (THē, yē) pronunciation
def.art. Archaic.


[Misreading of ye, from Middle English þe, spelling of the, the (using the letter thorn).]

USAGE NOTE In an attempt to seem quaint or old-fashioned, many store signs such as “Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe” use spellings that are no longer current. The word ye in such signs looks identical to the archaic second plural pronoun ye, but it is in fact not the same word. Ye in “Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe” is just an older spelling of the definite article the. The y in this ye was never pronounced (y) but was rather the result of improvisation by early printers. In Old English and early Middle English, the sound (TH) was represented by the letter thorn (þ). When printing presses were first set up in England in the 1470s, the type and the typesetters all came from Continental Europe, where this letter was not in use. The letter y was used instead because in the handwriting of the day the thorn was very similar to y. Thus we see such spellings as ye for the, yt or yat for that, and so on well into the 19th century. However, the modern revival of the archaic spelling of the has not been accompanied by a revival of the knowledge of how it was pronounced, with the result that (yē) is the usual pronunciation today."

It sounded as though a bomb went off...

We were awoken this morning just before our alarm by a flash of light and a loud noise. It sounded as though a bomb went off in our backyard. The dogs started barking and a little bit of chaos ensued.

As it turns out the neigbor's house, about 60 yards away, took a direct lightning strike. De Forest Fire & EMS were still on the scene when we left for work an hour later. It appeared they were sweeping through the house while the rest of the block was lit up like it was high noon from the halogen style light tower they had erected.

So, that's a funnel cloud off the back porch of one neighbor and a lightning strike to another. Here's hoping that mother nature sticks to Yorktown Rd (one block north of our house).


This weekend we went to visit Emmy and Julio. They got married on Friday. We met Julio's family and were invited to a fiesta to celebrate Jorge's (George's) birthday. They do the same stuff down there as we do up here, it's just the little things. You want an example? OK, how about Skirt Steak Tacos,
Kielbasa style sausage on tortillas not buns. That's no fiction, or pulp... nevermind , nobody will get the reference, and the ones that do won't think it's funny or clever... make sure and take it out.

This is Brownie a flop-ear rabbit with full roam of the flat. He's got a mental barrier that won't allow him to go past the checkered carpet towards freedom.

Behind this cute exterior is a ferocious predator who knows how to use all four of his teeth. While Julio lay on the floor brownie bit him three times, nearly breaking the skin.

I picked up brownie which is apparently a big deal because he doesn't usually let anyone pick him up, even Emmy and Julio.

We attended the Autumn Moon Festival which was poorly named as it took place under the blazing sun.

It looks like things are going to start any minute. Unfortunately, they started 45 minutes late and an hour after we thought the start time was so, we ducked out before the performances began.

I had a decent view of the stage. We were in the back row so, we could have more leg room.