Good Cell Phone News

This is very good news.  Verizon is going to open up their network so you can use any phone you want that meets some technical requirements.  I hope all providers (including mine, Sprint) will do this soon.  Right now you can only use the phones that your company sells on their network, but it can only be good for everyone for companies to open that up.  We'll see how it all shakes out but along with the Google Android OS thingy I'd say I am pretty happy about where the mobile industry is heading.


I Hope This Works

Tonight when Janelle gets home from work, the two of us will be heading to Palo Alto to spend the night, without Belle.  It will be the first time we're both away from Belle for a night.  Janelle's sister Shannon will be at our place with Belle, and then on Sunday she'll take Belle over the Grandma's to play.  We know Belle will be fine at Grandma's on Sunday because she's there three days a week and loves it...we're not sure how she'll do tonight without us.  I am hoping and praying she's good for Shannon and we don't receive any calls about how she's hysterically crying and won't stop.  Belle's at that separation-anxiety stage right now and she's never been without both of us for a night so we'll see how it goes.  Janelle and I could really use an evening and morning together without anybody or anything else to worry about...even if we will be staying in the belly of the beast, next to the hated Stanford Cardinal campus.



You may or may not be familiar with Woot.com, the site that features deals on one thing each day. These things range from battery chargers to vacuum cleaners to sound systems to headphones to paper bags of junk. Today they're having a Woot-off, which means once an item sells out, they're putting up a new item. So you may want to check the site periodically today to see if anything strikes your fancy. I personally am hoping to finally get my hands on one of those paper bags of junk. Yeehaw.



Honor and Heroism

sturmI've always been one for the tragic hero.  Growing up I enjoyed reading stories about the valiant man who bravely died due to this or that.  I remember reading the Dragonlance Chronicles novels as a kid (a rite of passage for any true gamer geek) and being of course drawn to Sturm Brightblade.  Sturm was a member of the disgraced Knights of Solamnia and clung to his honor.  He got himself killed by standing up on the battlements of a castle and challenging a dragon he had no chance of actually killing to allow his friends to defeat an enemy army.  Honor was a huge part of who Sturm was, and it was an ideal I looked up to a lot as a child.

My favorite heroes were always the knights who would do anything to preserve honor.  I recently read through Red Branch again, which is a great novel about Cuchulain, the Hound of Ulster in Irish myth.  There's a portion near the end where Cuchulain is obligated by honor to engage in single combat to the death against his best friend.  Here's part of it:

There is no way out for either of us, Cuchulain thought bitterly. Sencha the brehon had once taught him, convinced him: Honor is the treasure no one can take from you; honor is the shield no one can penetrate unless you let him. Now, honor had brought the two of them to an incy river on a bitterly cold day to try to kill each other for something neither could touch or taste or hold in his hands. Honor has somehow failed us, Cuchulain thought, wishing he had time to puzzle it through. But there was no time left. 

braveheart Braveheart is one of my favorite movies, something for which I have often (and perhaps rightly) been mocked.  As a teenager when I first saw it I was very taken in by the nobility of William Wallace and his quest for FRREEEEEEDOOOM from tyranny.  My friend Jeff was always a bit more skeptical of such displays, as was Adam; if I remember correctly they both saw Wallace's war as a personal quest for revenge over the killing of his wife rather than a battle for the power of the people.  Our motives are rarely as pure as we would like to think they are.

Honor is often another name for human pride and ego.  We build fortresses around our pet causes, construct monuments to ourselves, and call them honor.  True honor is something greater than a knight refusing to be insulted - it is a knight being insulted and refusing to exact revenge.  It is too easy for us to use concepts like honor and justice to achieve whatever ends we want and try to increase our standing in the eyes of others.  The truly honorable man is the one who is able to move beyond the perception others have of him and his honor, and do what is right.  I would be hard pressed to think of a situation where the right thing to do would be "demand satisfaction" (read that with a southern accent, please) from someone who has wounded my pride or made me look foolish in front of others.  Real honor is seldom as glorious as we imagine, and real human heroes are never free from stain, but both are worth having.


Check this out: Miro

Miro is a free, open-source video management program meant to help you get a grasp on all the video available out there, from YouTube (it makes it very easy to save YouTube videos) to video blogs to whatever else.  You can also use it to manage videos already on your computer.  I've just been using it a little but it seems incredibly useful, and I like its philosophy - Miro wants to help you get what you want from where you want rather than insisting you get stuff from the people that they want you to get it from.  It's a pretty small download, and right after you install it they play you a short intro video that gives you a good idea of what you can do before you start playing around.  If stuff like this continues to get better, and some of the networks wise up so I can legitimately watch the shows I want, I may be able to get rid of Comcast.  Fat chance, but who knows.


Google Phone Announcement

There's been a lot of anticipation over Google developing something called a gPhone or Google Phone or whatever and entering the mobile market.  Today Google announced Android, an open OS for mobile devices.  The idea is rather than releasing a phone, they are, along with the Open Handset Alliance, working on something that can be used on all kinds of mobile devices. 

This is exciting to me because while I love my Treo, I have longed for the ability to more seamlessly integrate and use things like Google Calendar with my mobile.  As it stands I have to jump through various hurdles to sync my Palm with a useful online Calendar service and if I'm able to use something like this it has a lot of potential.  I'm eager to see what this leads to.  From where I stand it can only be good. 

Breaking: Google Announces Android and Open Handset Alliance


Check this out: RSS

I'm going to start doing something new here and because I'm a paragon of creative energy I'm going to call it "check this out."  I think I'm a little (or a lot) geekier than most of you reading this, so I run across things you may not but still might like.  One theoretically useful thing I'll do here is pass along stuff I think you may appreciate or find useful.  Here's the first thing.

RSS Feeds.  There's a lot of info out there on the intarweb and it can be tough to keep up with it.  You've probably run across a site you liked before, bookmarked it, kept up with it for a few days, weeks, or maybe even months, and then forgot about it.  RSS brings that to an end.  Most sites (worth reading, and many not worth reading) publish RSS feeds.  What's that?

It takes the info they're posting on their site and feeds it to you without you having to visit the site.  The best way to take advantage of RSS feeds is, in my experience, an online site like Google Reader.  There are other competitors but I've found Google Reader to be easy to use and it has useful features like the ability to search your feeds, so if you just remember a phrase from some post you read a while ago that you wish you still had, you can type that in and it will search your feeds.  You should also see on the right sidebar of my site here there's a box labeled "Stuff I Liked Reading."  I have Google Reader setup so I can click something when I see a post I like and it appears over there for all of you to check out.

With RSS you can log on to one site and read things from all the different sites you've subscribed to, from News to Sports to Tech stuff to whatever.  Now you can know when a site is updated without having to take a little tour of the web every time you want to keep up with stuff.  I'd keep explaining it but that's basically the point, and someone put together a totally awesome YouTube video (what is this, some kinda tube?) that explains each step of getting RSS up and running for you.  Check it out here: 


Check this out: Q10 Writing Freeware

If you're anything like me, you like to write and sometimes feel inspired to do so on the computer, but have difficulty focusing.  I've found it's often the little things that help.  So check out Q10, this awesome little piece of freeware.  It's nothing fancy but it might help you get to writing.  It's full-screen, gives you live stats like word count, has a customizable look, portable, has a timer/alarm, and more.  By default it makes little typewriter-click noises when you type.  You could turn that feature off, but why would you?  Every press of the button is so rewarding.  Anyway, check it out.

This may also help those of you participating in Nanowrimo, which starts today!