Saturday, February 7, 2009

Olympic-Level Munchies

This week everyone has been in a tizzy about Michael Phelps and his infamous bong hit. The talking heads in the media have mixed reactions on the story with some calling the "issue" basically a non-issue and others calling for Phelps to be banned permanently. I find it hard to believe that this has become such a major issue. Phelps is basically a kid (23). College kids experiment with drugs. It's actually quite normal. I did it in my time and I turned out OK. If we're talking about heroin or crack here then the situation gets more complex. This was just marijuana and on the deadly drug scale, I would put weed near the bottom.

Now I know he's supposed to be a "role model" for today's youth. This is true, and I'm sure he will try his best not to slip up again. If he wants to experiment with drugs he should do it in the confines of his own house and not on some random campus in South Carolina. Sure, Phelps still has some growing up to do, but to grill him mercilessly about this one incident is ridiculous. I hope this story fades away from the sports pages as soon as possible. I don't think it's fair to tarnish Phelps' accomplishments in the Olympics with what I consider to be a very minor incident.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Google Latitude: Social GPS

The latest product to come out the door of the creative mecca known as Google is Google Latitude. Latitude allows users to track their friends' position on their phone or through the Latitude gadget on iGoogle. Of course when I first found out about this new product, I immediately downloaded it on my HTC phone. It integrates nicely into Google Maps (through a GMM upgrade) and even gives you an easy way to update your GTalk status from your phone. Unfortunately it seems that you position is only tracked while you have Google Maps open on your device and are using GPS. This may all work differently (better) on the iPhone so I hope one of you iPhone snobs can report back.

Some may complain that this is very Big Brotheresque, but you have the option of turning tracking off at any time so I don't really buy it. I can see several practical uses for Latitude:

  1. If I am coming home from work and Lori is at home and wants to see how I am faring in traffic to anticipate my arrival time, I can leave my GPS on and she can track me online.
  2. When we go up to my in-laws in Jersey or down to my Mom's in Richmond, they can follow our progress and know when to expect us (instead of calling every hour asking where we are).
  3. My boss at work (who is somewhat of a technophobe and looks like this guy) could use this to track all his employees and he could stop calling me and asking where I am.
  4. If you are taking a road trip with several cars, it would be cool to be able to track where everyone is if people get seperated.
  5. If you're out bar hopping one night and randomly find out that one of your friends is a few blocks away.
Now is all of this essential to your everyday well being?  No, of course not.  But I enjoy most advances in technology and believe this does have some practical applications. This is yet another example of a cool gadget delivered by Google that is (of course, once again) FREE to use. And I'm betting that in 3 to 5 years we will see this sort of social GPS functionality embedded in most GPS systems (Garmin, Tom Tom, etc...).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Boston Bound

Well I knew it couldn't last forever. I had a nice run of working locally in the McLean area for about 4 months now. This was a welcome relief from my constant trips to Seattle in the first half of 2008. The first part of this week I was back in Boston to work on a project for a health insurance client out in Watertown, MA. I was hoping I could work the rest of the project remotely (they have a Feb 27th deadline for rolling out a new portion of their site).

I'm now scheduled to be up there for at least 3 days a week until the end of the month. It's not really the travel that bothers me, it's leaving my wife and kids at home alone. My wife is due to deliver our first daughter in May and I don't like the idea of her taking care of the kids on her own while she's going through her pregnancy. At least the kids will be at day care during the day most of the time. Thankfully I was able to negotiate not working the whole week up there. With VPN access it is pretty easy to continue my work remotely. Since I'll be gone during the week, I decided to cancel my snowmobiling trip with my Father-in-law (I won't be missing the Oscars after all). Unfortunately, due to the current state of the economy, I need all the billable work I can get so there's no way around the travel at this point. I just need to minimize it as much as I can.

The silver lining is that I'll be able to save us some money (I won't use much gas or eat as much food from the grocery store) and I'll probably get a chance to pop in on Mommy Esq and her family. In March I should be back working locally in Virginia and I'll try to continue lining up local work for timing with the new arrival in May.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fringe: Life Imitates Art

WARNING: This post contains some spoilers from Tuesday night's episode of Fringe.

You've been warned....

Last night's Fringe was an excellent return to the quality story arc of "The Pattern" as we learn more about John Scott's past and deal with another deadly biological weapon. The weapon this time around is some sort of drug that turns a regular average Joe into an overgrown hedgehog. The opening scene of The Transformation was especially kick-ass in an X-Filesy way as we see the hedgehog wreak havoc on an unsuspecting plane full of people. I enjoyed the John Scott arc and how Olivia gets to see him in a suspended state at Massive Dynamic. Joshua Jackson was especially good as Peter in this episode. I loved his chemistry with Anna Torv in the scenes in the hotel during the weapon deal.

Speaking of Torv, I just found out that she actually just got married to Mark Valley, the actor who plays none other than on-screen love interest John Scott! Wow, talk about good casting. It doesn't look like Scott will be around much longer but at least Valley got to meet his wife on the show. Looks like next week we get back to the gripping side-plot involving the time travelling creepy old dude. Right now, in my opinion, it's Fringe running neck-and-neck with Battlestar Galactica for the title of Best Show on TV. BSG has a slight edge in an amazing final set of episodes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hollywood Nerds Get Eye Candy

Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestow a slew of Oscar awards on deserving film makers and actors. The night before the awards, a special ceremony is held honoring the scientific contributions made to film technology that year (like the morphing metal stuff from Terminator 2). The Academy has a tradition of naming a movie star to host the ceremony. Some of the notable hosts of the Scientific & Technical Awards over the years have been Tom Hanks, Richard Dreyfus, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other a-list stars.

Starting in 1998 with the lovely Ashley Judd, the host of the Sci Tech awards has been a certified Hollywood hottie. Scarlett Johansson, Rachel McAdams, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jessica Alba have hosted the last four ceremonies and now the Academy is announcing that Jessica Biel will be the host for this year's event. If you ask me, I think the Academy is throwing these nerds a bone (so to speak). They probably sit in front of computers all day in dark rooms and don't get a chance to live the glamorous lives of their acting counterparts. The Academy has the right idea here: Give these eggheads one of the hottest actresses out there to hand them their awards. Maybe next year they should have dual hosts and get Daniel Craig to attend so the female nerds (nerdettes) get some love.

Know Your 50 States

I like to pride myself on my geography skills (I minored in Geography at Syracuse). I know almost all of the US state capitals by heart and can't believe any self-respecting American would not be able to fill out the names of all 50 states on a map. What is slightly tough, however, is typing all of the states in 5 minutes. mental_Floss has a quiz up that tests your memory and spelling skills. I was a little frustrated that I could not get all 50 in the alotted time (the ONE state I missed is pictured on this page - sorry cheeseheads). I started doing the east coast first then my brain wandered to the west coast and I forgot about the home of the Badgers.

I did try one other quiz on mental_Floss about License Plates and pulled a 15/15. One of the plates was easy as the deadbeats that live next door to us have about three or four cars with the same plate.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jim roasts Michael Scott, wins Super Bowl in same night?


Watching last night's classic episode of The Office ("What's a text?"), I was reminded of the fact that Steelers Super Bowl winning QB Ben Roethlisberger looks just like John Krasinski. The resemblance is especially noticeable when they're both sporting beards (Big Ben is the one on Letterman above).

In other news, it looks like a slight snow storm is coming my way up here in Boston tomorrow. Hopefully my Chevy Cobalt rental can make it to my client site and back. It'll be nice to see some more snow this Winter though.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Denny's Wins the Super Bowl

One of the most exciting Super Bowls in history was played tonight as the Steelers edged out the Cardinals.  Overall I was dissapointed again by the level or creativity in the ads this time around.  Only a choice few made me chuckle and there were far too many ads involving animals.  Animals just aren't that funny unless they're monkeys.  The Denny's ads were very good though (surprising considering it's Denny's, I mean DENNY'S, cmon...).  Check the ad below from Hulu (who put together an excellent ad themselves featuring Alec Baldwin).

Right after the game there was an even better Denny's ad featuring NannerPuss (a pancake-eating banana).  Can't find that video right now though and I need to watch The Office and then catch a few hours of sleep. Thanks to Tamara, the video for NannerPuss is below! Looks like this first-time Super Bowl ad campaign for Denny's is taking a toll on their website which won't load for me. Rookies.