Tag

technology

No Radio Show For Now

By radio show

So you might have noticed I’ve quietly removed most references to the radio show I was originally going to have. With work and all the other things I have going on, it just isn’t feasible at this point. Plus my chosen co-host, Rochelle, also has a full plate and it would be difficult to schedule weekly time together that fit between our commitments.

I’ve received many comments and emails of encouragement for the radio show, and I really appreciate everyone’s support. Sometime in the future it will eventually happen, just not right now. There’s technology out there that could allow me to give Rochelle a microphone and have her record with me from JMU in the fall, live via an audio chat. It would sound the same as if she were in the room with me. So, that’s a possibility. Again, though, thanks for everyone’s interest and for reading my daily blog posts.

Tracing The Three Notched Trail

By history

I’ve always been fascinated with local history, but nothing has intrigued me more than Three Chopt Road. Hundreds of years ago, it was an Indian trail, and was then improved in 1730 as a more substantial roadway between Richmond and Charlottesville. Route 250 (Broad Street) replaced the road in the 1930s, but it’s still one of the oldest roads still in service today in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson frequented the road, going between his home in Monticello and the Capitol in Richmond quite often. Many, many other notable individuals have also traversed this roadway.

I’m about to undertake a huge project. I’m going to single-handedly document the entire road from its origin near Powhatan Hill east of Richmond, all the way to Augusta County in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Why? It’s one of the most historic roadways in America, and yet little has ever been done to completely document everything on this rapidly-deteriorating (because of replacement roadways) trail.

I’m going to set out to document interesting buildings and houses, landmarks, and other features of the road, beginning near the city, sometime in the next two or three weeks. Armed with just my GPS, camera, and camcorder, I’ll document anything interesting I see. I hope to somehow export geodata about where videos and pictures were taken onto a custom Google map as the project progresses. Check back on the website I bought for the project, www.threechopt.org, soon. I’m ready to do this!

Am I crazy? Maybe. But this is my passion! Plus, a lot of people I’ve talked to out at the local history exhibition I put on every Fall always ask about the road and its history. Heck, it even runs right through Short Pump, although most of the original portions in this area have been realigned to make way for developments, such as West Broad Village.

Stay tuned, there are many more updates to come! If you or someone you know would like to get involved, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m Employed

By business

So just to update everyone, I finally found a job. I’m working at Attronica Computers, Inc. off of Nuckols Road. I’m in the Engineering Department as a Computer Technician. This week I’m mainly at the University of Richmond doing some help desk work (Attronica as a contract with them for their computer systems). I love what I’m doing and the experience I’m gaining, and just overall so thankful I have a job, and one I really like at that! More to come, but just wanted to update everyone on that.

Battery Pack In The Freezer: Not A “Cool” Idea

By funny, sarcasm, technology

Oh the perils of technology. Ever think something’s a great idea at the time, and then later on you’re kicking yourself? Yeah, story of my life. I think I killed my digital camera battery. This is a strange story, indeed, but worth a read.

I have a Sony Cyber-shot N1 digital camera. I’ve always had, and probably always will have, Sony digital cameras. They make superb products. Anyway, my last camera had the same proprietary dock port as my current one, meaning the same USB cable should naturally work with both cameras, right? Yeah, you’d think so at least. I misplaced my memory card reader the other day, and so I pulled out the USB cable I still have from my old camera.

As soon as I plugged it in, it killed the battery completely. So, I plugged it into the battery charger, and literally after two minutes the battery was fully charged and operational (which tells me the battery wasn’t drained in all actuality). So anyway, smart one here used the cable again today, thinking it was just an isolated incident, and sure enough it killed the battery again. The only problem this time was that the battery wouldn’t recharge. Why? The battery was already fully charged this time. The charger wouldn’t charge it any further (it’s an aftermarket charger I bought after I lost my factory one), and I therefore couldn’t get the battery working again.

The whole thing about the USB cable killing the battery instantly is strange, I know. But strange or not strange, I needed to take some pictures today for my Downtown Short Pump website. I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I have always heard that lithium ion batteries drain faster in cold environments. This is why many cell phones and iPods, as well as other devices with rechargeable batteries, work for shorter periods of time in the Winter months when used outside. So genius here got what he thought was a bright idea. If the battery won’t charge because it’s already full, why not drain it? And if lithium ion batteries drain quickly in cold conditions, why not stick the battery in the freezer for a bit?

I stuck the thing in the freezer for about an hour. I took it out afterwards and it was cold and covered with condensation. I think it’s shot. Who knows, though, it could have already been done for after using that cable a few times. Why a simple USB cable with no power running through it could affect a battery, or anything else for that matter, is a mystery to me.

Guess I’ll be ordering a generic battery to go with my generic battery charger. Pretty soon I suppose my camera will be generic, as well. It’s about the only Sony brand component left. As much as I like technology, I sure screw a lot of my own electronics up.

Sub-Par Posting

By life, news, technology

My blog entries lately have been sub-par. Okay, just flat out poor. I’m aware. I’ve had technical issues with my computer, wireless internet, my hosting service, moving to a new server, and other things. I promise I’ll be back to my normal posting habits tomorrow.

I’ve also been working non-stop on getting my web business up and running. It’s finally getting where it needs to be visually and content-wise. I’ll write a big post about that soon. I have so much on my mind I wanna write about, in fact, that my head might explode. I’d say I have a mental list of topics that will get me through at least the next three weeks.

Hang in there. I’ll see you tomorrow for some much more in-depth and interesting content. I promise.

Hang Tight!

By news

Just wanted to put out a note ahead of time that I’m in the process of upgrading my hosting account (moving to a bigger server) because I’m getting serious about my web business, Short Pump Media Ventures. I’m moving all seven of my websites (domain names, files, et cetera) to one massive server. I’ve made backups of everything on every site, so while there’s no chance of data loss, there’s a pretty good chance all of my sites, including my blog, will be either seriously disabled or completely down for a day or two. Everything should be peachy by Monday (I hope). Self-hosting is a tricky thing. The server seems to have a mind of its own. It’s a lot more customizable to host websites yourself, but at the same time it’s a lot more work. See you soon (hopefully)!

Tornado Outbreak: Suffolk Devastation & Colonial Heights Déjà Vu

By news, Uncategorized, weather

Fifteen years ago, in 1993, a strong F4 (winds of up to 260 MPH) tornado touched down in Colonial Heights, destroying the Wal-Mart store and killing three people, before tearing through Petersburg’s historic district. Well today, history seems to have repeated itself. A moderate tornado touched down in the exact same shopping center (Dimmock Square, near Southpark Mall). Is that eerie or what? I was only five years old the first time it happened, but (strangely) vaguely remember seeing it on TV. The Dress Barn and Target stores suffered blown out windows and minor roof damage, but for the most part there was no extreme structural damage.

It was a different story in Suffolk this evening. The same line of storms marched eastward (and strengthened considerably as they did so) and proceeded to completely flatten a portion Suffolk’s historic district, then went through a golf course community and completely wiped large, substantial homes clean off their foundations to the point where all that was left was a concrete slab beneath. This part was especially eerie to me because the neighborhood looked very similar to mine (Wyndham) from the aerial shot.

Suffolk is completely devastated. It looks like an atomic bomb went off the way the homes literally exploded with the extreme winds. At the time I’m writing this, there has only been one person confirmed dead, but unfortunately, it would be miraculous if the death toll didn’t rise, by the looks of the flattened neighborhoods. Hopefully it won’t, though. Virginia is no stranger to tornadoes, but usually experiences much weaker ones than this. This was extremely rare. Keep your thoughts and prayers with the Hampton Roads community during the aftermath of this immense, widespread natural disaster.

I find all of this very interesting since most of you know how much I like weather and storms. I flipped through the local news channels and hooked up my Comcast digital box to my Mac to record everything as it happened. Here are some screenshots from the live broadcasts I recorded from NBC 12 (WWBT), 8 NEWS (WRIC), CBS 6 (WTVR), and WAVY 10 (WAVY) (NBC affiliate in Norfolk, via live streaming on-air web simulcast).

1993 archive video footage of the destruction of the Southpark Wal-Mart (WRIC)

Meteorologist Jim Duncan advises citizens to take shelter during a tornado warning (WWBT)

Aerial image of Dimmock Square Shopping Center (perimeter highlighted in yellow) and the adjacent Wal-Mart store (now a Sam’s Club) that were both hit by tornadoes that followed the exact same paths in 1993 and 2008 (Blackwood Development Corporation)

Cars were tossed like toys in the Dimmock Square Shopping Center parking lot, in front of Target (WWBT)

A house suffers extreme damage in Suffolk (WTVR)

A Suffolk antiques shop is cut in half with almost no visible damage from the front or rear façades, but obviously the historic building is a complete loss (WAVY)

 The owner of a car dealership snaps a picture through the front windows of his business as a huge tornado barrels through Suffolk (WAVY)

Facebook Chat: Feeding The Addiction

By business, opinion, sarcasm, technology

So the release of Facebook Chat is all the buzz this morning, at least from what I can judge by the status updates of my friends. Apparently no one saw it coming. I’ve known about it for a couple of weeks, but didn’t think it would be released for a while.

This is bad news for people like me who are already borderline addicted to Facebook. It’s just like putting a six pack in front of an alcoholic. The temptation is just too great. The interesting thing to note, though, is that Facebook sees this as an AIM-killer. They think that by integrating a chat system into their already intricate social network, users will see it as a one-stop shop for social networking and instant messaging, putting AOL Instant Messenger on the back burner. I don’t know about that.

Personally, I’ve had an AIM screen name for almost ten years. Most people I know have had theirs for years and years, too. I don’t think you’re going to see an abandonment of any grand scale anytime soon, if ever. It’s not so much that people are loyal to products like AIM, it’s their familiarity factor and the average computer user’s resistance to dramatic change in the technology realm that will ultimately save AIM’s bottom line.

Then again, I don’t use the AIM client itself, but rather a Mac program called Adium. I’ve always been surprised that AIM allows other programs to use its network, because by doing so there’s no banner ad or anything like there is on the actual AIM program and consequently no money in the pockets of AOL. But of course I applaud them for having such an open source platform of sorts.

At any rate, it’s a nice new feature, but Facebook’s claim that it’ll take over AIM is about as threatening as Microsoft’s claim two years ago that the Zune would be an iPod killer. And we all know how that one turned out. I’m still laughing at you two years later, Bill Gates.

Flock – The Social Web Browser

By technology

I heard about a relatively new web browser today designed for today’s increasingly interactive interweb (screenshot from my computer above). The advent of Web 2.0 has brought a new meaning to the web. There’s an increasing amount of interconnectivity between different Web 2.0-based social networking sites like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and Twitter. This browser, Flock, connects them all together into one easy-to-use browser. Once you set up your accounts, there are tabs in a sidebar that allow you to simultaneously access each of the aforementioned social networking sites.

Friends’ updates appear instantly, and you can click “media” next to their status updates to see their photos in the media bar (the dark area with photos at the top of the browser in the screenshot). There’s even one-click access to create a new blog post in your blog once you set it up. I tried using that for my blog, and although it worked, it lacked the functionality I need to add formatting and other elements such as pictures to my posts. Their blog editor is very basic.

I use Safari currently, but thought I’d give Flock a try. I’m impressed by the interconnectivity and this is a great idea for people such as myself who are [way too] connected to Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube and find themselves multitasking multiple social networking sites at once. I’m not sure if I’ll keep using it or just stick with Safari, mainly because I already have Safari set up just how I like it, but we’ll see. It’s a very cool concept and has Firefox-like theme and extension features. It’s available for download on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Give it a try, eh?

The DTV Switchover Scam: Don’t Get Taken!

By business, news, opinion, rants, sarcasm, technology

You’ve probably seen those not-so-creative TV advertisements the National Association Of Broadcasters has put out in an effort to scare inform the general public about how their TVs will no longer work after February 17, 2009. Why? The federal government has mandated that all over-the-air stations turn off their analog signals by that date. The government has auctioned off the analog spectrum to private companies. For more on this, see my post, “AT&T To Bring Free Wi-Fi To Starbucks And Beyond!” where you can learn more about the plans.

Anyway, leave it to Corporate America to capitalize on consumer confusion and take advantage of all of the many people who don’t know anything about what’s really going on with the digital switchover.

Oh, before I go any further, please notice the picture on the left. I added my own caption commentary, but the picture is for real. It’s on the joke-of-a-website DTVAnswers.com. Lets have a moment of honesty and self-reflection here. Do you or anyone you know watch TV like this? Unless they just gambled their life savings on a horse race and just won, there is no way they could be this scary-happy without hard drugs. But I digress.

These TV ads are putting many people in a frenzy. My friend’s family just replaced every TV in their house because they thought without a new TV, each with a digital box connected to it, they wouldn’t be able to watch TV anymore. They already had Comcast standard cable, but they thought they needed both new TVs and to upgrade to Comcast’s digital package (hence the digital boxes) to receive programming. Comcast’s boxes and the ones the government is offering are completely different! The cable industry is raking in the big bucks this year because of misinformed people such as this family.

My grandparents recently got a second digital box from Comcast for their second TV because of the same confusion. I know there must be countless other individuals doing the same thing and flushing money down the tubes to these companies who are using shady advertising tactics to trick consumers. Don’t get screwed over by the cable industry. Here are the cold, hard facts.

If you’re one of the diminishing number of people who uses “rabbit ears” to pick up local broadcast stations and have a TV that’s more than a couple of years old, you won’t be able to pick up the signal after February 17, 2009, without a digital set-top converter box (available free or at a discount rate from the government). If you have cable from any provider at all, such as Comcast or Verizon, you don’t have to do anything. You’re not affected in any way, shape, or form, and don’t let them convince you otherwise.

The government isn’t very clear about who’s affected either. Is this Bush’s backdoor plan to help the economy by helping manufacturers selling millions of dollars TVs and related equipment and the cable and satellite industry make record profits? Okay, probably not. But that is what’s happening in these industries. Don’t get taken!