Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Big Day

My car is currently being worked on at Pep Boys. Because of this, I am currently without a set of wheels (other than my bike). The problem is I had to work today.

I decided I had been "in training" long enough, and made the decision to ride my bike to work today. I've gone on 10+ mile (16+ km) bike rides since purchasing my road bike, and I only work about 7 miles away from home.

Leaving at about 7am this morning, I made it to work at about 7:35am. This was decent timing for me, although I keep no official record of how fast I cycle. (I really should). It was a very windy day today (at least for Fresno standards) reaching from 15 mph to 28 mph gusts. I didn't hit too much wind on the way to work except for the last mile, where it was manageable.

On my way home however, it was the first mile that I had very little wind, and the rest of the ride was 25 mph wind in the exact opposite direction that I was traveling. This was a little frustrating, but I like to look on the bright side of life and say that it made for a better work out.

I made it through the day though, and asking myself when I shall do that again.

At least my bike gained some utility other than just for exercise, and with gas prices where they are, I probably just saved myself a few dollars!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Droste Effect

This is a pretty cool concept, as one of my favorite past times is contemplating the infinite.

The droste effect is where packaging of a product features a picture of the packaging within the artwork.

Not only is this neat because of the whole "implied infinity" thing, but it also allows a product to pay homage to itself, and is kind of an advertisement for itself.

Via (AdFreak and BoingBoing)

Daniel 1-3

While waiting for my car to be fixed I read from Daniel ch. 1-3. It
was great to read about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's
amazing faith. God rescued them from certain death with miracles.

This makes me think about this news story:,2933,341574,00.html

As well as the fictional story of the man who turned down three rescue
attempts from a flood because he was convinced God was going to save
him. He died and on arrival to heaven, the man asked God why he didn't
save him and God replied "I tried three different times, but you
didn't take any of them".

I guess this shows that we not only need to have faith, but also
realize that God doesn't just work using hollywood style miracles.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Laughter is the Best Medicine

People always say that laughter is the best medicine but how many people actually put that into practice.

Here, John Cleese visits a club in India that has a sole purpose of laughing. A very interesting concept, and it does in fact look like a lot of fun.

(Via BoingBoing)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Proper Grammar

I was at 7-11 today getting a Slurpee because the temperature is well above 90F (32C).

My brother Andrew pointed out to me a signed taped to the slurpee machine. It read "Slurpee Lids Is Right Behind U" and I just had to take a picture.

This is a perfect example of unintentional marketing. Assuming people notice, and I'm giving most people the benefit of the doubt here, people are going to add this to the "negative" category for the store. This will probably not stop anyone from shopping at 7-11, but it is one of those things that can add up with a number of other small things that eventually lead to an overall brand image of a company.

If shoppers saw this sign at a store like Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue (taped, poor grammar, and using a word like "U"), some people might even walk right out of the store. This shows that small things like this are important, especially if they do not fit into the brand. At 7-11 this kind of sign is not that surprising because it fits with the ring of dirt where the floor meets the cupboards, and the nacho cheese crusted dispenser. This is also one of the marketing things that are really only noticeable if done incorrectly. I don't think anyone would complain or stop shopping at 7-11 if this sign was done correctly.

In conclusion, marketing is simply not advertisements, but rather a compilation of everything an organization does, especially those things that are evident and visible to the consumer.

Website Recommendation - Chromasia

I love taking pictures, as I've mentioned before. I also really enjoy looking at pictures, as I think this can give a person many good ideas for their own photography, in a kind of inspiring way.

One of my favorite photography blogs is Chromasia, which is a photo blog created by David Nightingale from Blackpool, England.

Not only are the pictures amazing, but if you subscribe to the feed for his picture blog, he adds a lot of great commentary on photography, photo manipulation, photography ethics, and many other interesting subjects.

Blackpool is on the coast in England, and as such many of his photographs are of the beach, pier and other coastal subjects, but he also takes a lot of photos of his adorable children, buildings, and interesting people of his city. Recently he has been posting a lot of HDR images, which give his photos even more of a dream like quality to them.

Signing Messages

I think the process of signing your name at the bottom of messages on the Internet is becoming a thing of the past.

As technology improves we are becoming ever increasingly linked to our usernames in whatever we do. I look at Facebook, both with the conversation style message function and wall posts, it seems too redundant to sign your name at the bottom because your name and picture are already right beside whatever you type.

In Gmail, the conversation format usually hides everything but the new part of the conversation and therefore it is easy to differentiate each part of the conversation. Text messages, IMs, and tweets are received from people we know with their name and/or number already attached or programmed into our device.

Does this add to, take away from, or do nothing to the level of how personal communication is on the web?


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Microsoft Live Mesh

I was accepted into the Microsoft Live Mesh Preview and started using it today. It's pretty cool, and I'm excited about some of the interesting things that will be coming in the future. If you haven't heard about Microsoft Live Mesh, here is a quote from the Mesh Team's blog.

Live Mesh is a “software-plus-services” platform and experience that enables PCs and other devices to “come alive” by making them aware of each other through the Internet, enabling individuals and organizations to manage, access, and share their files and applications seamlessly on the Web and across their world of devices.

Right now it just has support for the online desktop and PCs (Vista and XP), but they will be adding Mac & mobile device support in the near future. I'm really excited to add it to my Windows Mobile phone, it will make syncing with my computer so much easier and accessible from anywhere and anytime.

Here are some other articles explaining Live Mesh. Robert Scoble & Mary Jo Foley

Leaving a Voicemail

The Art of Manliness Blog has an interesting article about the best way to leave a voicemail.

I appreciate efficiency, and when someone leaves me a voicemail that drags on when it shouldn't, I can get annoyed.

I think we owe it to people with whom we communicate to make voicemails short and sweet. This is also one of the great things about text messaging. Sending a text message almost requires short and to the point communication.

Painful Recreation of "Who's on First"

This is a recreation of the "Who's on First" routine from Abbott and Costello by two actors who are completely unfamiliar with the sketch.

It is very funny, yet so painful to watch/listen to.
(Via BoingBoing)

Birthday Wishes

First, I want to start by discussing any rumors that you may have heard.

It was in fact my birthday this past Wednesday.

I received many well wishes that day, and on no medium more so than Facebook.

I always enjoy graphing things, so I decided to create a graph of when people left me wall posts throughout the day wishing me a happy birthday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Car Thefts in Fresno & California

For those of you who live here in Fresno, have been to Fresno, or plan to visit Fresno, some great news coming out of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Fresno is no longer listed in the top 10 worst cities for vehicle thefts! Fresno fell to a 'respectable' 11th place in 2007 from 8th place in 2006.

Here are the top 10 cities in order starting with the worst city
  1. Modesto, CA
  2. Las Vegas, NV
  3. San Diego, CA
  4. Stockton, CA
  5. San Francisco-Oakland, CA
  6. Laredo, TX
  7. Albuquerque, NM
  8. Phoenix-Scottsdale, AZ
  9. Yakima, WA
  10. Tucson, AZ
Of course, the San Joaquin Valley area also takes spots 11-13 with Fresno, Visalia, and Sacramento (in addition to #1 and #4 spots with Modesto and Stockton).

(via Fresno Famous)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Since today is Earth Day I have decided to post about a way we can all help out the environment. To give you a little background about some of past environmentally conscious writing, read my article that appeared in the Fresno State Collegian titled "Look Both Ways At Preventing Pollution." It is one of my writings of which I am most proud, and I'm gonna be honest when I say it is genius.

A slightly more practical idea is using our vehicles more like gliders than planes. The plane mentality is to keep the engines running and keep the speed of the vehicle constant until you need to stop, here the brakes are used to bring the car down to a complete stop. The glider mentality is to get up to speed using an engine but then let physics take over for the rest of the journey.

I have not done any of the calculations to find out if it is more efficient to get up to say 40mph, coast until you reach an unsafely slow speed, say 25mph, and then accelerate back up to the speed limit and repeat the process. I do know, however, that if we used the gas pedal less and coasted to a stop we would definitely be saving gas.

For example, both on my way to work and on my way home from work, there are a few intersections at which I will surely or at least likely stop. If I take my foot off the gas pedal well in advance of where I normally might and just let my vehicle coast to a stop (or a near stop, as not using your brake pedal at all will likely prove dangerous and deadly) I will reduce gasoline consumption in my car.

This, of course, really only applies if you use a common vehicle and not a hybrid. Hybrid's take it a step further and use braking to recharge the batteries.

Just a simple idea to help reduce your gas bill and save the environment.

Website Recommendation - Perry Bible Fellowship

While the title of this site might be a little misleading, Perry Bible Fellowship is another online comic strip. These comics, unlike Spamusement are fairly well drawn and are usually multi-pane.

What is so special about these comics is the "punchlines," which are some of the most random you will come across. As well, for some the humor is hidden deep within and it takes a read or two before you fully understand the comic. (Or maybe it just does for me). These comics aren't for everybody and a few have themes inappropriate for children.

Often times you will think the comic is going somewhere entirely different and then it will just smack you in the face with funny. They even have a book on amazon for sale with comics from the website and original ones.

Here are a couple of classics.

Todays My Birthday

Magic Eyes

Pool Jumping

The President of California State University, Fresno has had a Holiday Open House every year where he hosts the students of the Smittcamp Family Honors College at his house for refreshments and a time for the students to get to know the President better and vice versa. The open house is held both inside (where the food is available as well as a few rooms with seating) and outside (where the refreshments are served as well as some pool side seating). The open houses are always held mid-December.

At one of these first open houses I went to, I had discussed with my good friend Tim about how awesome it would be to jump into the pool while at the party, especially if we were wearing suits. Of all the times I've been to the President's house, which is probably somewhere near 15, I've never seen anyone swim in the pool or use the hot tub.

Finally during our Senior year, Tim and I went to Goodwill and bought matching baby blue sport coats. We donned our khakis, white dress shirts, and blue sport coats and headed out to the President's Holiday Open House. For most of the party we just mingled with all the guests as usual, and throughout the evening we dropped hints about something exciting happening outside.

About half an hour before the event was scheduled to finish, we had some friends herd everyone outside as we proceeded to jump in the pool at the deep end and swim our way back to shallow end where the crowd of around 50 or so had gathered. While this is California, it was not warm that evening, and my guess is that it was only somewhere between 5-10 degrees C (40-50 degrees F).

I had my friend Darlyene take video of the historic event.

We found out a few months later at our Graduation Awards Dinner that we were the only ones to have "swam" in the pool at that house (other than the President and his wife) since they moved in about 15 years before. This awards dinner was also where the President made a point to use the pool jumping stunt as the premise for most of his jokes, including how he will have to make an example of us so this doesn't become a yearly tradition. This of course was not as funny for me as it was for everyone else because I was really hoping to graduate. (I did get my diploma though after all).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Do You Speak English?

For anyone that has ever traveled to a place where they don't speak your language.
(Via Presurfer)

The Unique Factor

While watching CSI: Miami it became obvious that every case on this show (and the other CSI shows) have some kind of "unique factor".

For example, this episode had a car that ran only on pure bio diesel, which they even said was rare, as well as a piece of fake jewelry that conveniently fell off in said car.

Would these amazing investigators be able to do their job if there wasn't this rare and unlikely evidence. Is this kind of evidence in every case in real life?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Website Recommendation - Spamusement

One of my favorite web comics is Spamusement, which is self-described as "Poorly-drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines!"

The best part about these comics is how random and off the wall the interpretations of the spam subject lines are. Of course, there are many vulgar spam subjects but most of the actual cartoons are fairly PG rated (because of the interpretation)

One of my favorites is titled "today is the best day"

The author of these cartoons, Steven Frank, has not made any new additions in almost a year, but there are guest submissions in the forum, which have been inspired by this concept.

Jesus is the Answer

I was listening to my Andrae Crouch Pandora radio station this morning and the first song was "Jesus is the Answer" by Andrae Crouch.

When I listen to songs like this my spirit gets a boost and I just feel good. I will share that with you now.

Win* a Free** iPod***!

*This is not actually a contest
**If you want an iPod® from me you will actually have to pay me money for it.
***I can't even promise it will be an iPod®.

Ah the contests that give away free iPods, tragedies of Internet advertising. These obviously too good to be true advertisements that are found everywhere from MySpace to almost every other website on the Internet are annoying. Let's face it, most of us have been, for some time, to the point (hopefully) where we just ignore these ads.

I got a little brochure in the mail from my Health Insurance company with a picture of a mother and daughter either doing yoga or meditating and next to it "Get in tune with your health and you could win an iPod®"

My first response to this is to just toss it away, but its legitimate, right? I mean its from my Health Insurance provider. But they're probably only giving away one iPod® for the thousands of customers they have. Or maybe I have to sign up about 30 of my friends with this insurance to qualify to get it. Nah, forget it, I'll just ignore it.

My point is that if you are going to give away a prize follow these two rules. (Not just one or the other).
  1. Have as your prize something that is popular and/or that people want.
  2. Don't have as your prize something that is already widely misused as a prize because people will likely either ignore it or not believe it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I Wish I Were Small Again

This actually happened in an epsiode of one of my favorite TV shows "How I Met Your Mother" in Season 1.

Anyways, this kid gets stuck in one of those insanely frustrating claw machines that you find most places you can find kids. I can feel this kids pain cause the few times I've tried it I think I have it lined up perfectly until the claw comes up and I realize there is no strength in the claw, and I just wasted $__. If I were small again I would definitely try something like this. I got to think that if there is a way in there is a way out, so I'd try to figure that out first.

Link to video
(Via Engadget)

In the episode of How I Met Your Mother the kid got to keep all the stuffed animals, because as Robin said "he was in there a long time and little kids have small bladders"

Free Software

Don't buy software if you don't have to.

Here is a list of software that is free to use (legally of course). As a user of a number of these software titles, I can tell you that they are quite powerful, and you probably won't notice much of a difference compared to the "Brand Name" titles.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Aerial Photography

An interesting view of a lumber yard from the sky (via

I also like this one from the same site (both because of the sport, and because the shadows add another dimension to the photograph)

The New Internet

Interesting discussions about how the Internet will evolve over the next few years, including the death of the web page *gasp*!

I'm no expert, but my bets are on more of an evolution of the webpage with more user-friendly functionality like differences in ways we view and interact with webpages.

Of course, it is becoming more and more obvious that the merging of our operating systems and our Internet experience is the direction we are traveling. I think we can, therefore, look at our OS and see some of the "new" things we'll once find in our web experience.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Viral Marketing

I just received an email from a company with which I've done business in the past, and like most of the companies they feel they have a right to continue email me well after our business has concluded.

This email, however, had something very interesting in it. They sent me a long a self-proclaimed "viral game" that I could play to win some exciting prize.

Now that kind of irritates me. It's not a viral game unless its actually viral, and people are sending it to people who send it to people, etc. Them sending it out to their email list does not make it viral. I'm guessing, and it's only a guess, that it is not even a very good game so it probably won't become viral.

The question I would ask them is whether they think calling it viral will have some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy effect and people will send it to all their friends just because its called that.

Geekery Diversion

I can, at times, be a little geeky or nerdy (depending of course on your definition). I often come across different sites that arouse this side of me, and often I am in danger of spending hours doing whatever it is these websites offer for enjoyment.

Because I want you to share in this joy, I've decided to share some of these sites with you.

(Warning: If you are not careful, you could be caught up in the excitement and end up spending more time than you thought.)

  • String Wave - Wave the end of this string, and see what kind of waves and oscillations you get (and yes of course there are variables to modify.)
  • Outside In - A 21 minute video describing the science/physics/engineering required to invert a sphere. It's not as easy as it sounds.
  • Time Fountain - This is a DIY project where you can make a fountain that seems to operate outside of "time". (Click here for the YouTube video, the one on the page seems to no longer work)
  • Blue Ball Machine - An infinitely awesome factory that does something with a bunch of blue balls. Can you figure out what the purpose is?
  • Guess-the-Google - Can you guess the Google search from a bunch of pictures?
Hopefully this occupies your time sufficiently today. Watch for more of these types of things in future posts, as I come across them.

And, as a bonus today, I will share with you the Timeline Clock.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

First Impressions

I'm going to be completely honest, I was originally going to be taking this post in a completely different direction until I got a stroke of what I like to call genius.

I have finally found the time to sort through over 750 songs that are a part of the SXSW 2008 Showcasing Musical Artist collection. How I understand it is basically every band that plays at the SXSW festival releases a song for fans to check out before getting the chance to see them live in concert at the festival. I have downloaded the torrent of all the songs 3 of the last 4 years, and its a great chance to discover new/emerging artists, and develop tastes for new kinds of music that I might not hear otherwise.

The only "problem" is that there are so many bands/songs that it can be overwhelming. 764 songs may not seem like a lot, but its actually around 48 hours of music, which means you can listen to the torrent straight for two days without listening to the same song once.

I love a lot of different kinds of music, but I don't enjoy listening to ALL kinds of music. (Screaming? Seriously?) So I take the time to go through each song and decide the merits of it and whether I will keep it. In previous years I've kept about 115-145 songs so assuming I keep that many I'll be throwing away 600 songs. This task can seem daunting, and even though I'd prefer to not judge a song by the first few seconds, I will often times do just that. And honestly, there aren't too many songs that aren't well represented within those first few seconds.

My original post was going to be about the importance of making first impressions very important because it may be all your target audience gets to experience. While this is useful and true, I actually think there's a little more to this than might be obvious.

One thing that I've really taken away from reading Seth Godin's blog(s) over the last number of years is that its not necessarily the number of customers you have, but the kind/quality of customers you have that is the most important. The bands that scream and have the jarring guitar riffs don't (or at least shouldn't) want me to necessarily listen to their music. I'm not the customer that will say "Oh, this music is AWESOME! I must listen to more, buy the t-shirt, and buy tickets to as many concerts as I can." I might even bad mouth their music, cause I either don't understand it or just don't like it. This band can try and win me over as a customer/listener to their music, but I guarantee that would take way more work than its worth. Instead they need to focus on the people that already enjoy their kind of music.

This means that it is more important to be truthful about your self/band/company/church/God in those first impressions than it is just trying to impress them. If your goal is to try and impress with your first impression than you are probably trying to hit the lowest common denominator to attract the most amount of people. When you go that route you please nobody.

The point is to be truthful and build the trust that will win you long term customers.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Today's Bike Ride

I decided to go on another bike ride today even though the temperature here in Fresno was supposed to be only 65 degrees F (its actually at 66 degrees right now, so there).

This was one of the longest bike rides I've ever been on, partly because I apparently missed one of the roads I was planning on turning on, and just kept going. I had a basic route planned out before I left because I wanted to do some North Fresno exploring to see parts of the city I haven't seen before.

It was a lovely bike ride nonetheless, and I got to do a lot of rural road bike riding, which I hadn't really done either before. Google Maps says my total trip was around 12.5 miles (partly an estimate because I took a non-road bike path for part of the trip.)

Here is the route I took for my bike trip. (Courtesy of Google Maps)

Guitar Hero Air Guitar Rocker

From the makers of Guitar Hero has come Guitar Hero Air Guitar Rocker, which as the name implies is Guitar Hero but in the form of Air Guitar.

On par with the real life guitar hero experience, but this definitely adds that "air guitar cool" factor.

In my opinion, this product is much better than this hand held guitar hero game.

You can buy Guitar Hero Air Guitar Rocker at major retailers around the country for only $29.99.

Amazon Water Lily

Here's a very cool video about the Amazon Water Lily. Not only is it super interesting because you get to learn about this fascinating plant, but a lot of the video is time lapse footage, which is always wonderful. Via Presurfer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Electronic Devices

Every time I have to move my computer and everything that entails, this is what I end up having to deal with. (And this doesn't even include my router and modem cause that was one of the first things I set up.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Attracting People

Sitting in Church this morning something (and don't even ask what, cause I can't remember) reminded me of a story I heard from my dad about a Church giving away a Hummer to attract people to their services.

This got me thinking about what are acceptable means and what are unacceptable means of attracting people to a Church. I think this should somehow link into building trust, but I'm looking at this a little more specifically than that.

There are a few other stories I found that relate to this concept. A Church has given away iTunes gift cards/songs to attract people to an "i" themed sermon series, and maybe slightly different is Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois who has a car donation program where they give cars to single moms and families in need of a car.

I guess the question should be "Where do we draw the line in trying to attract people to the Church and God's Kingdom?" or "Is there nothing too controversial when it comes to this task?"

I am operating under the assumption here that the Church's goal is to help people, and the ultimate way to help someone is to bring them into the Kingdom. (Simplified of course, but I think it is a fairly accurate simplification).

Is there a difference between giving away a Hummer, 1800+ used cars, iTunes gift cards, and donuts and coffee on a Sunday morning?

If I were to take a guess I would say the best option is to help the most people and make the biggest possible impact for all those you are helping.

What do you think?

Guitar Hero Shows Up in Real Life

This is a pretty sweet video I found via Presurfer. Hopefully you have had the joy of playing the amazing game of Guitar Hero, if not you should go out and get it. I really enjoying playing Guitar Hero even though I'm not that coordinated or good at it (even considering I play the real guitar, mind you I'm not that good at that either). One of the great things about Guitar Hero is the great rock songs that you can (pretend) to rock out to. This video has one of the GREATEST rock songs of all times.

No video? Click through to post to see video

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Building Trust

Seth Godin has been posting lately with some themed posts. I find this concept very interesting, and I think he's absolutely right, that to fully interact with someone (whether it be for business, church, or something as simple as a friendship) it is so vital and important to build trust. It could be a potential customer, a visitor to your church or a new friend, a certain level of trust must be there for the relationship to grow and last.

This trust doesn't have to be earned through personal interaction and being a trustworthy person (although that definitely can help), it is about your audiences perceptions of everything. These perceptions relate to honesty, experience, knowledge, skill, basically every part of your interaction with your target audience.

It is a fairly simple idea, how someone perceives you or your organization is going to determine his or her attitudes toward you and the level of comfort of interaction.


No, it's not a spelling mistake. This is a (probably fake) product that does something pretty mundane using a creative process. With my love for tea, I thought I would share this with you.

Cigarettea is tea that is in the shape of a cigarette. Basically all you do is throw the cigarettea into a cup of hot water, and your tea will steep like any normal tea bag.

Even if it is fake, I think it is an interesting idea. I like it when people look at everyday items or processes and try to modify it or make it better. It really uses a lot of one's creativity muscles.

One of the potentially great things about this product is that it would make carrying tea with you much easier (at least for a guy). Plus, if you can roll the box up into your white t-shirt sleeve, then you can look like a real hellion.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that as always loose leaf tea is the best option, much better than tea bags and the like. Plus, if you like really good quality tea you should visit to buy some of the best tea I've ever had. (Disclaimer: I did a marketing/management Internship for Cargo & James Tea in 2006, but their tea is really good.)

From idealist via Presurfer

Bike Riding is Relaxing

I am not working this weekend and I am trying to take advantage of that and the fact that the weather is beautiful. Right now in fact the temperature is about 90 F (32 C).

My brother Andrew and I decided to go for a bike ride to Woodward Park. It was good exercise and it was very relaxing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Website Recommendation - Etsy

In my continuing series of website recommendations I thought would be a good choice, especially since Mothers Day is coming up (Sunday May, 11th for those of you who probably forgot)

Etsy is a place where people can sell all sorts of handmade items. It's a community of buyers and sellers who have a love for handmade items in common. Here is their own description of their community.
"Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade.

Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.

Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice:

Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade."
Most of what they have falls under the accessories, decor, clothing, and jewelery categories, but there is a lot of stuff to buy here. Whether for decorating your house or finding that perfect Mothers Day present, this can be a great resource for finding what you are looking for.

Photos of Life

A few years ago I set up a Flickr account for my photos. A lot of the pictures that are up there are from much closer to when I started the Flickr account, but I have added a few since then after various trips etc. Check out my photos here.

Here is just a small selection for your viewing pleasure, and hopefully it will convince you to head over there.

carousel - magic mountain

Flowers - 8

Eat all your food

I really love photography, and I hope that I can continue taking lots of great pictures now that I have a new camera. So keep checking my Flickr photo page or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Law & Order

Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, along with at least one other variety. The whole idea of these shows is to tell the story of the criminal justice system with both the police who find and arrest the criminals and the court system that prosecutes these criminals.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is different from the others because it deals with crimes that are "especially heinous" usually sex based crimes. The only problem is that I can't figure out how Law & Order: Criminal Intent is different from the regular version. I would assume, and don't forget that I am no expert, but most crimes on the original Law & Order have intent that is criminal behind them.

But I am not an expert.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Website Recommendation - Kayak

There are many gems that can be found on the Internet, but part of the problem is the sheer size and magnitude of the web. As this blog progresses I will share with you websites that I use/enjoy/find interesting so you too can share in the joy I experience. I am not sponsored by any of these websites or companies and will always disclose any such conflicts of interest. (Of course, this may not include any Google Ads that appear on my page)

Today's website recommendation is Kayak the travel search website.

I use this website almost exclusively for travel search on the Internet. It uses a very simple interface and searches a large number of travel retailers on the Internet. My two favorite things about this site is its comprehensive list of flights and prices and the search result filtering. searches both the websites of airlines and travel booking companies such as and As is not a place for purchasing travel but merely a search site, it gives you results from all these websites and gives you the prices of your travel request from these websites. So whether you want to book your flight from the airline itself to earn extra frequent flyer miles or maybe you want to use because of the OrbitzTLC you can find out the price of each.

With all the search results the filtering functions in Kayak are very useful. Sliders, checkboxes, and tabs allow filtering for almost every aspect of the trip. This makes finding that perfect flight much easier.

Try it next time you're booking flights or a vacation.

The Closed Window Effect

I was driving my car today with my brother in the passenger seat.

I had my window open, but my brother Andrew had his window shut. We were driving through a kind of construction area with pylons and as I was driving by one pylon on my side of the car I pretended to reach out and touch the pylon. It was fun.

As we went a bit further, I was turning onto another street, and made a right turn very close around a pylon on the right side of the car where my brother was sitting. I said in a very excited tone "touch the pylon, touch the pylon!"

Andrew went to touch the pylon, but the window got in the way. It was funny, and you might have had to be there to find it as funny as I did. But I wanted to share it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Know Your Audience AND Your Medium

If you have a cell phone and receive text messages you probably have experienced this.

Quite often, especially on important holidays like St. Patrick's Day and Easter, I receive text messages from friends wishing me a wonderful day. Some, more than others, annoy me a little. Of course I am glad they thought of me enough to send me a text message with the greeting, but its more the way they do it. Here's the basic format:

"I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy _______. I hope all of you enjoy yourselves and stay safe."

Seems great, except that its not a text message to me (which is what I was expecting when my phone beeps) but its a text message to a bunch of people. With text messages you don't know if someone is sending the message to other people, because it is, for the most part, a phone to phone communication medium. With email it is a lot easier to figure out if the email you have received is just to you or to a bunch of people, so the example above could be used effectively when it shows that someone has received this message along with your entire address book. In a text message, my first assumption when I receive a text message is that I am receiving a text message from someone who has just typed it out and wants to send me a little message.

It is obvious these people use the same message over and over again just changing to whom the message is sent, so in my opinion it would be better to make the messages more personal (even without names, as long as its directed to an individual and not a group).

An exception to this rule is Twitter, where someone might wish "everyone a happy ______" but people using Twitter understand that these messages are sent to everyone. This does take the personal touch away from these text messages, but the point of Twitter has much more to do with networking and getting your message out to a lot of people quickly and easily (and again, I believe Twitterers understand this).

I think this text message concept has a lot in common with regular snail mail. People are more likely to open an envelope that has hand written addresses and a real stamp on the front than a a "PRSRT STD" and a little plastic window with your name and address peeking through as the To: line of some form letter. (Of course, I haven't looked up any research on this subject, but I know it goes for me). This is because letters are supposed to be (and started out as entirely) personal messages from one person to another. This is how text messages started out, and I believe still is in most people's mind.

In short, please next time you send out a mass text message, make it less generically directed at everyone and more generically directed at me.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Dubbed Commercials

During my most recent trip to Europe (specifically England) while watching TV I saw a few different american commercials (known there as adverts) dubbed. Now these commercials weren't dubbed into another language to accommodate any number of immigrant groups that are residents of the great city of London. Rather these commercials were dubbed over with an english accent to mask the harsh sounds of the American accent the commercial originally had.

This was strange and possibly even more strange to me since I've been back state side. While watching commercials here I notice a lot more that there are many commercials using a main character/voice with a british accent.

There are marketing implications even in something as simple as an accent. People often associate different characteristics with different accents (whether right or wrong) and companies try to use this to their advantage.

Prescription Drug Commercials - Part 2

Another thing I find really ridiculous about prescription drug commercials is some of the warnings they mention.

Of course, I understand that this simply is a legal requirement that each company must follow in order to advertise their spectacular products, but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

One of my favorite examples of this is the warning for many sleep aids stating that "after taking _______ sleep aid you should not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how _______ sleep aid affects you." Who in their right mind thinks, "Oh, I have to go dig that large ditch by the elementary school with this massive backhoe, but let me take this drug that will probably make me fall asleep first..."?

I have a much easier time understanding the driving part of this statement because a large majority of people in our society actually drive. But if you are going to mention something like operating heavy machinery, why don't you mention other things like flying a plane, shooting a gun, or operating a Tilt-A-Whirl?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Prescription Drug Commercials

There are many laws in the US I'm sure regarding commercials for prescription drugs. Maybe one of the most obvious of these is the inclusion and listing of risks and side effects.

Sometimes drug companies try and spice things up by having "doctors" or friends who turn out to be doctors list these things off as if this type of language were commonplace in everyday conversation. These attempts come off as fake and useless to me.

I'm sure I could find a lot of other stuff that I don't like about these commercials but this is a good place to start.

An infinite number of ________

I'm sure you are familiar with or at least have heard of the Infinite Monkey Theorem that states if "a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a particular chosen text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare." Because of its dealings in the infinite this is obviously more of a mental exercise than a testable hypothesis or idea, but it is still interesting to think about. One of my favorite Molson Canadian beer commercial series used this idea, and plays on the sense of Canadians lacking an identity. Where "an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters will eventually define all that is Canada." (After much searching, I can't seem to find these commercials on the web anywhere).

I was thinking the other day about some other theoretical variations of this, and one idea crossed my mind that might be interesting to try. If your shoes are untied and you walk an infinite number of miles your laces might just up and tie themselves. This would be useful if you didn't want to tie your shoe, but I'm a little scared to think how many times one might trip waiting for your laces to tie themselves. I guess the question we all have to ask ourselves is "Is it worth it?"

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New TV Remote Concept

Apparently Bang & Olufsen has designed a new remote control for television. It's pretty slick, although it doesn't have as many functions as my 1,832 button universal remote.

via Engadget


I should explain some background to the last two posts.

My brother Andrew and I took a sort of spur of the moment trip to San Jose, CA on Tuesday.

Our goal was to go to IKEA in Palo Alto and we pretty much decided the night before that we would go. If you've never been to IKEA you really don't know what you are missing until you go. It's one of my two favorite stores in the world (I'll try and let you guess what the other is).

We left at about 9am, and got to IKEA around 11:30am. Previously we went to Sacramento and the IKEA there, but we decided to try a different city this time around. The drive to San Jose is a little longer than to Sacramento, but the drive is much nicer. The problem with driving up to Sacramento is that its pretty much just a straight shot up highway 99, which can get boring (as you know if you've ever made the trip).

I bought a lot of random stuff, and fortunately did not spend as much money as I did last time I went. This time my bill was only about $115. I purchased some side tables, pillows/shams, and various kitchen items. Andrew and I were seriously considering buying a new kitchen table and chairs, but we decided not to because we already have a decent set.

On our way back to Fresno, we made it a fairly leisurely trip, stopping at some stores and various eating establishments, including the restaurants from the two posts I posted on the way back.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Root Beer

In an attempt to make this trip back to Fresno relaxing and leisurely Andrew and I have stopped at A & W for some refreshing on tap root beer in a frosted mug.

Andrew and I are big fans of root beer and we both agree it is hard to beat one of these cold root beers in a frosted mug.

Jones Organics Green Tea

So I'm at Panera Bread with Andrew and I got a jones Organics Green tea mandarin flavor. It is pretty good, very light and refreshing. I hadn't seen these before and I thought I would try it because of my love for tea and all. There was also a peach flavor but I'm usually not a big fan of peach flavored drinks.