« April 2006 | Home | June 2006 »

Entries From May 2006

May 31, 2006

Q on the Way

Filed under Gadgets

I ordered my Q this morning. I needed to do something, since my Mavs lost last night. I find gadgets to be therapeutic.

The phone is $199 with a 2 year commitment ($100 rebate). I got the $79.99 plan with 450 minutes/month and unlimited data. Shipping and handling are free. Activation is free through June 4th. Here is where you order the phone online. The phone should be here in 2-5 business days. Verizon's Q product page is here.

May 29, 2006

Makin' Bank!

Filed under Blogging

This is kind of exciting...I got notification today that somebody (I don't know who) clicked on the one ad I put on my website and actually bought something...so I get a commission! I made a grand total of...$2.50! The power of the internets is amazing! Here is the article I wrote that got me my $2.50. Now if I could just figure out a way to get a million more people to click that ad and buy something...

I've been accused of being tragically hip in my communications, so in case you don't know what I mean by "bank", read the definition here.

May 27, 2006

Dallas' Time Square

Filed under Animation, Architecture, Video

This is going to be way cool. This is what the south side of the American Airlines Center will look like in November of 2006. This is the main entrance to the AAC, called "Victory Plaza", which is part of a bigger development called "Victory Park." On either side are two 4 story buildings that will be packed with cool restaurants/bars/shops. ABC's WFAA will move their studio to the bottom of the front, right building and broadcast live with people in the background (like Good Morning America does in Times Square). The coolest part are the 8 huge LED TV screens that *move*! It is hard to explain, so check the video out here...

This is the part I *really* like. The TV's will be showing short (5 minute or less) videos about 16 hours a day. This is called the Victory Media Network. There are a total of 11 screens to work with and 12 discreet channels of audio. If you have an idea for a cool animation that can utilize their screens, they are taking submissions. This is going to be a continuously running and changing digital art exhibit! If you want to submit something, read this. I really want to get something on those screens, so I'm definitely planning on submitting something.

The "W" is set to open in the next month. At 33 stories, it towers above the AAC, right at the end of Victory Plaza. Check out the virtual tour of the Ghostbar at that W link...it has glass, see-through floors protruding from the W towards the AAC, 33 stories above the ground!

An even taller building, 43 stories, is planned for 2008 called "Victory Tower." It will be built next to the W, closer to I35. There is a bunch of development going on, read about it here. I live in a very cool neighborhood!

May 26, 2006


Filed under 3D, Animation, Computers, Maya

I registered for SIGGRAPH 2006 today. This will be the 10th consecutive SIGGRAPH I've attended. This year it will be in Boston in late July/early August. I plan on spending a few days checking out Boston before the big show starts (I've never been to Boston before).

Now that I have this blog thing down, I plan on doing SIGGRAPH trip reports directly on this site. Should be fun! If anybody else is going...let me know and we'll hook up at the show.

May 25, 2006

Avery Racks Josh!

Filed under Funny, Mavericks, Video

How does a diminutive coach like Avery Johnson demand respect from his players? He punches them in the balls if they aren't paying attention! Josh Howard will learn one of these days! This is from the end of the game 7 vs. the San Antonio Spurs.

May 23, 2006

Let's Go Mavs!

Filed under Mavericks, Video

What a game last night! Mavs beat the Spurs in 7 games...probably one of the best 7 game series of all time!

This is a video that they play in the AAC. It is a tribute to DeSagana Diop, the Mavericks starting center. He is a crowd favorite that won the starting center job midway through the season because of his hustle and ability to block shots. With Diop as the starting center, the Mavericks began playing at another level and have not let up. Check his stats here.

The song is based off of Kris Kross's Jump. Diop! Diop!

May 21, 2006

A Competitor to the Q

Filed under Gadgets

Samsung has a phone that should be out soon that is like the Motorola Q, only smaller and lighter. It is missing the Q's side jog wheel that is helpful for one handed operation. It is called the Samsung i320. Unfortunately, this phone doesn't support the networks needed to run in the US. So, I'm sticking with my plans to get a Q.

May 20, 2006

My New Favorite Movie Theater

Filed under Movies, Reviews

I saw The DaVinci Code at the new AMC NorthPark 15. The theater opened two weeks ago. It is part of a massive expansion of NorthPark Center that makes it the largest mall in Texas and one of the 5 largest in the US.

You buy your tickets on the second floor. There are plenty of automated kiosks or you can use the antiquated human ticket sellers if you are old school. Once you have your tickets, you ride the escalator to the 3rd floor where the theaters and concessions are.

The 3rd floor has huge windows looking out onto the new 1.4 acre CenterPark in the center of the mall.

I have seen plenty of restrooms that have components of "the perfect restroom", but they never go far enough. I really like a restroom where I don't have to touch anything. The AMC NorthPark 15 is the first restroom that does it right. There are no doors to push open, just a winding hallway to the restroom. The urinals flush automagically (and they have dividers!). When you wash your hands, the water automagically turns on *AND* the soap is automagically dispensed (first time I've seen that before), nothing to touch! They use paper towels for drying your hands, which I prefer to the fans anyway. There you have it...the perfect restroom!

The theater I went in (#9) was ginormous. I have no idea what the dimensions are, but it is certainly one of the largest screens I've ever seen. I went in on the 3rd floor, but the 4th floor gives you access to the top of the theater. I like that all the seats are in the center (no seats next to the wall). The stairs run along the theater wall...which makes sense, you don't want to sit on the side and have people walking up and down the stairs in your way of viewing the screen. The seats have cup holders and the arm rests can be raised.

Besides the movie theater addition, NorthPark also added a food court, right next to the theater box office. Here is a list of all the restaurants and fast food places at the mall.

The DaVinci Code

Filed under Movies, Reviews

I saw The DaVinci Code yesterday on opening day. I read the book a few years ago and really liked it. The book was very entertaining and thought-provoking. I was excited to hear The DaVinci Code was going to be made into a Ron Howard movie starring Tom Hanks. Great story, great director, and great actor and you have a great movie, right?

Wrong! This movie is terrible! What a disappointment. I found myself bored and checking my watch several times. The movie is 2 and a half hours long, and it feels like it. I thought Tom Hank's acting was wooden and he had no personality...his character, Robert Langdon, never connects with the audience.

The one bright spot is Ian McKellen. He was fun to watch and delivers some of the most entertaining and controversial dialog in the movie.

As for the controversy surrounding the book and movie, I think it is a bit overblown. After I read the book, I felt compelled to learn more about how the Bible was created, and this is a good thing.

So don't let the controversial subject matter keep you from seeing this movie, just stay away because it isn't any good. I give it 2 out of 5 stars. Not a good start to the summer movie season.

Mixing Entries and Comments in a Feed

Filed under Blogging

If you don't know what a feed is, you should read this first.

One of the things that annoys me about blogs is how comments are handled. If I make a comment on a blog, how do I know if someone responds to it? Do I need to keep checking the blog entry to see if there is a response?

I've come up with a solution for people that subscribe to my blog feed. Now comments are posted to the feed just like entries are. Moveable Type (the software I use to do my blog) lets you do a list of entries or a list of comments, but not a single list of both. I looked through the Moveable Type forum for a solution and I found a plug-in called MTCollate that does exactly what I want. MTCollate lets you combine multiple lists into one list and then sort by any property of the list. So I combined a list of the last 15 comments with a list of the last 15 entries and output the most recent 15 comments/entries. Here is my atom template (right click and "Save Target As..." to view) for Movable Type. Clicking directly on this link won't work because the browser will try to interpret the XML tags instead of just showing you the text.

I used this site to make sure my changes to the feed were valid. It found several problems and gave enough documentation to help fix them all. Now my feed is validated. One problem that required a bit of investigating was how do give every entry/comment a unique id. This page has a good explanation on unique feed id's. The description of the atom feed format is here.

For people that don't subscribe to the blog feed, or want to know immediately when a comment has been added, I want to add a "email me when a new comment is posted to this entry" option to my blog. I haven't looked into how to do that yet. If you know how to do it, post a comment.

May 16, 2006

Raiders of the Lost Trophy

Filed under Funny, Mavericks, Video

I saw this for the first time on the big screens at the American Airlines Center for Round 2, Game 3. Glad it is online so everybody can see it. It is a spoof of Raiders of the Lost Ark with Mav's coach Avery Johnson and perennial Maverick-hater Charles Barkley.

Q Release Details

Filed under Gadgets

It sounds like the Q is going to retail for $499 without a contract, according to a Motorola Q give away contest (see prizes). And if this guy is to be believed, a two year contract with Verizon will get you this phone for $299.

This post claims the phone will be available for businesses on May 24th, and then available in stores a week later.

LED DLP Delayed Until July

Filed under Gadgets, HDTV

The first LED-based DLP HDTV, or what I like to call "My Next TV", has been delayed until July. Originally, the Samsung HL-S5679W was to ship in May. I guess that gives me a few more months to save up.

Crutchfield has a page on this TV now.

May 14, 2006

Mavs Win!

Filed under Celebrity, Mavericks, Photos

I just got home from the game tonight! What a fun game. The Mavs started strong, but San Antonio slowly crept back into the game and took the lead in the 4th. It was back and forth for the last 8 minutes. With 6 minutes to go, everybody was standing and never sat down again...I've never seen that happen before at a Mavs game. It was an electric evening! We ended up winning by a single point. That puts the Mavs up 2-1 in this round 2 series.

I had *great* seats! I was sitting in Section 104, G 5, about 10 rows away from the action. These tickets cost $126. Sitting just in front of me were NFL quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning. I got a better shot of Troy when he took a break at half time.

The Mavs had several new videos that were pretty good. One was a music video called "He Did The Flop" to the tune of the Monster Mash. It was about Manu Ginobili always pretending to get knocked down.

Another one had the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy tries to get the gold idol...only they replaced some of the important parts of the scene with Maverick related content. Coach Avery Johnson was Indiana Jones. The idol was an NBA Championship Trophy. And the guy that asked Indy to throw him the idol in exchange for the whip was played by Charles Barkley. The big boulder that chases Indiana out of the cave was replaced by a large basketball. Well done! UPDATE! Found it here.

The also did a South Park intro spoof featuring characters from the Mavericks.

The last memorable video was a computer generated animation. It featured Dirk as a singing cowboy. The song: "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Spurs Fans", to the tune of Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.

After the game, I went down to the Old #7 Club to celebrate. And guess who I ran into? Boogey Bob. He was nice enough to take a photo with me. If you have never heard of Boogey Bob or just want to see Boogey Bob do his thing, check out this interview.

Fun night! This is the best Maverick team we have ever had...we are going all the way this year!

May 13, 2006

Home Computer Genealogy

Filed under Gadgets, Lists

Wow! This took a lot more effort than I thought. I did a lot of searching through company product histories and archives of credit card transactions to put most of this together. I previously did the Game Console Genealogy, so here is the Home Computer Genealogy...computers I've grown up with.

May 12, 2006

Game Console Genealogy

Filed under Gadgets, Lists, Xbox 360

Here is a list of video game consoles I've owned throughout my life. The first one (Radio Shack TV Scoreboard) took a lot of googling in order to find a picture of it. Apparently I've had a console from every generation except the 3rd generation. My guess is that I was busy playing on computers at that time. I'll do my computer genealogy next.

May 11, 2006

Web Page Icons

Filed under Blogging, Software

You'll notice that most established web sites have an icon. Icons for web pages are known as "favicon's". For example, checkout Yahoo's red "Y!" icon. The icon usually shows up to the left of the web address in your web browser. Favicon's are used in your web browser's favorites list. It is also used as the icon on your desktop if you right-click a web page and choose "Create Shortcut".

To create your own favicon, just place an icon named "favicon.ico" in the root directory of your web site. The Wikipedia article link above mentions a way to put your icon in a different location.

To create my favicon, I used a program called IconXP. This is a really well done program that is loaded with features. Some of the features that really stand out:

  • Screen capturing which allows you to easily paint an icon in another package bring it into IconXP
  • Test your icon quickly on top of various backgrounds. This helps ensure your icon is easily recognizable on different color backgrounds (black, white, and a custom color). It also shows you which pixels will shine through the transparent parts of your icon.
  • Supports custom resolutions up to 3000x3000
  • Supports monochrome, 16 color, 256 color, and 16 million color icons
  • Support for 8-bit alpha transparency (256 levels of transparency instead of just transparent/not transparent)
  • Create icons of various formats from another icon. For example, you can create a 64x64, 16 million color icon and then let IconXP generate a 16x16, 256 color and 32x32, 16 color icon from the original icon.
  • Dither painting! This is a nice feature. When working with 16 colors, you can use a technique called "dithering" to make it look like you have more colors.

An icon file can support multiple representations of an icon. If you don't create the format an application is looking for, it will try to create the one it wants from one of the existing formats. For Windows XP, IconXP suggests an icon file support the following formats:

  • 48x48, 16 colors
  • 32x32, 16 colors
  • 16x16, 16 colors
  • 48x48, 256 colors
  • 32x32, 256 colors
  • 16x16, 256 colors
  • 48x48, 16 million colors, 256 levels of transparency
  • 32x32, 16 million colors, 256 levels of transparency
  • 16x16, 16 million colors, 256 levels of transparency

For my favicon, I used the 9 formats suggested by IconXP. It seems to work well. I did find one issue, though. I noticed that My Yahoo! doesn't work with favicons correctly when it draws the favicon next to web site feeds I'm tracking. It uses the 48x48, 16 color format to generate a 16x16, 16 color icon. This is probably a bug in their software since I am providing the format it is auto-generating. The problem is that my 48x48, 16 color down-sampled to a 16x16, 16 color didn't look very good. To fix this, I took my 16x16, 16 color icon and had IconXP create the 48x48, 16 color icon from it. That way, when Yahoo down-samples my 48x48, 16 color icon, it gives me the correct looking 16x16, 16 color icon. My 48x48, 16 color icon does not look as good anymore, but that is not a format that will be used much, so it is probably OK.

So now I have a favicon for my site. Next up, a cool looking banner! The favicon is a hint of what my banner will be, although I doubt anyone will be able to guess what it is. Yes, my favicon is a stylized "D"...but from where?

May 10, 2006

New Xbox 360 Toys!

Filed under Gadgets, HDTV, Xbox 360

E3 is going on this week. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo made some big announcements concerning their next generation consoles. Even though I was a PlayStation guy (I had a PS1 and PS2), I decided to switch to the Microsoft camp and get an Xbox 360 because I thought they had a better game plan than Sony.

Here are some of the Xbox 360 announcements that I'm excited about:

  • HD DVD player
  • Wireless Steering Wheel with Force Feedback
  • Xbox Live Vision Camera - For video conferencing and as an input device for games using "gestures"
  • Wireless Headset
  • Grand Theft Auto IV and download-able episodes
  • Retro games for Xbox Live Arcade: Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig Dug, Rally X, Defender, Paperboy, Root Beer Tapper, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Frogger, Contra, Super Contra, Track & Field, Time Pilot and Scramble. Portrait style games like Pac Man (as opposed to normal TV in landscape mode) don't fit on standard TV. To fit on the screen, either the game has to be redrawn at a lower resolution or it is zoomed in. If you want the closest reproduction of a retro game, these solutions are not acceptable. But since the Xbox 360 can do HD, this should no longer be a problem!
  • Live Anywhere - Play online via Xbox 360, PC, PDA, or cell phone in this seamless network
  • PC RF Receiver - use wireless Xbox controller, steering wheel, headset, etc. on your PC
  • Halo 3 - I've never played Halo, but I've heard good things about it

Highlighting Today in Outlook

Filed under Software

We recently switched to Outlook at work. I am also using Outlook for my home email/calendar/contacts. While I was trying to get it configured just right, I noticed something annoying. In the calendar, today's date is not highlighted. I found in the month view, today's date is highlighted, but not the 5 day/7 day view. I searched for an option to fix this without any success. Notice in the picture above how today's date (with the red circle) looks just like all the other days. Mouse over the image to see how it *should* look with today's date highlighted. I found it hard to believe an application as sophisticated and as established as Outlook would not highlight today's date for you.

My brother found the solution! It has to do with what "style" you are using to draw your windows (Start->Control Panel->Appearance and Themes->Display->Appearance->Windows and Buttons). I never would have guessed that! I found two styles that both have the problem with highlighting today's date: Windows Classic Style (which Windows 2000 uses), and this style I downloaded so I could get the Windows Media Center "Royale" Theme.

I switched my home system back to the original Windows XP style and the highlighting problem was fixed. My work PC runs Windows 2000, so I don't think there is a solution for it. If you know of one, please add a comment.

May 6, 2006

In the future...all halftime shows will be like this

Filed under Funny, Video

This is titled "Worst Halftime Show Ever", but I think they have it all wrong. If these guys did every Super Bowl halftime show going forward, I think it would dwarf the game and the commercials in terms of popularity. I know I would tune in just to see what these guys are going to do next.

I especially like the guy with the shruken head from Beetlejuice. You can tell he is no newb when it comes to show business. When he detects things are going a little bit slow, he busts out from the line and becomes a whirling dervish! You can't teach that! This is another one of those videos I *never* get tired of watching. It gets better with age. Enjoy!

Error Deleting File or Folder

Filed under Reviews, Software

You have probably gotten this dialog box at some point when you were trying to delete or move files. If an application locks a file when it opens it, the file cannot be deleted or moved. Unfortunately, Windows does not tell you which application has the file locked. Sometimes it is obvious why a file is locked, but often times it is not. One technique I've tried is to keep closing applications until the file can be deleted. This is a painful way to do it and it doesn't always work. I have found that the OS itself sometimes locks a file, thus the only way to unlock the file is to logout and then log back in.

I found a better way! This tool is the answer! It is called Unlocker. It adds an "Unlocker" option to the right click menu for a file. It will tell you what application is locking the file and let you unlock it. Works great and it is free!

May 5, 2006


Filed under Gadgets, HDTV

Samsung has released the first LED-lit (as opposed to a light bulb) DLP set, the HL-S5679W. Here are the deets on this set:

  • 56 inch
  • Native 1920x1080 resolution
  • Supports 1080p input
  • Uses LED's instead of a light bulb
    • Faster startup time
    • Produces more colors
    • No color wheel (no noise, no rainbow effect)
    • Longer lifetime (20,000 hours for LED vs 4,000 hours for bulb)
  • Black cabinet (why do they keep switching between black and silver?!?!)

A quick search of prices shows that this sweet set can be had for as low as $2450.

This is probably the set I'm going to get, pending some good reviews.

May 2, 2006

More Cowbell!

Filed under Funny, Video

Here is a link to the video...a must-see if you don't know what "more cowbell" means!

This sketch from Saturday Night Live originally aired April 8th, 2000. It features Will Ferrell and Chistopher Walken in a spoof of VH-1's "Behind the Music". This is my favorite bit from SNL in the last 6 years. To commemorate this, I proudly wear my "More Cowbell" t-shirt.


About May 2006

This page contains all entries posted to David's Blog in May 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2006 is the previous archive.

June 2006 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.34