Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Good Life

Last winter, my wife heard an announcement on the radio that the America West Heritage Center was looking for volunteers. These volunteers would dress up as 1917 folk, and hang out at the Center. The AWH Center is a 'living farm', which means they grow real crops, that they feed to real animals, that they then really kill, and serve up at their food fest.

I wasn't too enthused, when my wife told me that we were all signed up to volunteer, less enthused when I found out we had to 'dress up', and possibly even less enthused when I put on my overalls (I'm pretty sure the first time I've ever WORN overalls), but when I got to the farm, my opinion was dramatically and immediately reversed.

The farm is beautiful, located in an very scenic part of Cache Valley (you'd be hard pressed to find a part of Cache Valley that wasn't scenic. I spent the day chopping wood, fixing a mower, using cordless equipment (cordless in the sense that it's 1917 equipment), leading a pony around the yard, eating cornbread, soup, and cobbler, feeding the pigs, and there was nary a cell phone to be seen.

My kids were having fun. Running in the yard, feeding chickens, helping out with the laundry, and playing ball.

My wife had to drag me from the place. I asked when we were going back. She told me next Thursday which, in my opinion, isn't nearly soon enough.

So if you're in the area, drop on by. If you pick the right day, I'll be there. I'll be the guy grinning like an idiot, and looking for all the world like I'm having the time of my life.

Me, circa 1917

Me, circa 1917
Originally uploaded by firemeboy.

A cool mashup

Somebody came up with the idea to mashup google maps with the concept of a wiki. You can see the result here.

It's a great idea, but the implementation might need a few tweaks. You don't have the option (at least that I can find) of reverting back to previous versions. That is a must, in my opinion, to prevent vandalism.

In other wiki news, a very interesting experiment is going on in CA. Registered voters can participate in a virtual political boot camp. Participants "create a platform of issues they hope a real political party would adopt as its own." Come on, you've got to admit the concept is incredibly interesting... The only problem is that people would have to actually get involved. Which is a lot to ask of a democracy...

I can see special interest groups slathering over it now.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cross your fingers...

For those that may not know, the US Patent Office granted the sole rights on 'one-click shopping'. So if you've ever been annoyed that some sites don't simply keep track of your credit card number, it's not because they don't want to, or have the technical expertise, it's because they are not allowed. They would have to pay Amazon in order to have this functionality.

But this story is an interesting one. Some guy who was ticked off at, did a bit of research and found several similar patents that pre-date the Amazon patent. The US Patent Office has opened the question back up, and Amazon must now go and prove that they do in fact have the rights to keep others companies from storing your credit card number.

Personally I find the fact that you can patent something like that mind boggling. Let's hope that something good comes out of action being taken by congress, although if you are expecting politicians to make a good decision, well... I have this bridge for sale.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

MIT's Laptop

Price tag, $100.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A bit of light reading...

I've found there are two kinds of reading, and I enjoy both. One kind you have to rev up your brain. Whether it's a complicated journal article, or a biography or piece of non-fiction that challenges the way you think. You don't just read, you engulf, you surround, you engage.

The second kind of reading is leisurely and relaxed. The book kind of just flows over you. It's 'light reading'.

I've been doing a lot of the former reading, so over the weekend I treated myself to a bit of the latter reading. I read Arthur C. Clarke's Songs of Distant Earth, and almost completed James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small.

I always enjoy a good Clarke Novel because they aren't like your normal run of the mill Science Fiction. In other books you have your story line, your climax, and your resolution. In Clarke's books nothing actually ever happens (think Rendezvous with Rama). But when you're done, you feel like you've listened in on a few lectures in an introductory college physics course. I read about the space elevator, theoretical quantum engines, and interstellar space travel. Very entertaining.

And then of course reading James Herriot is almost like going on a vacation. I want to visit two places before I die, New Zealand, and England. New Zeland because I've heard from more than one person that it is paradise on earth, and England because of the way Herriot describes it in his books.

Anyway, I'll likely finish up Herriot tonight, and then it's back to every piece of peer reviewed literature on the topic of wikis I can find.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Utah Dodged a Bullet

That was close.

Utah had proposed three designs for it's commemorative quarter. All three can be seen here.

Usually when they have these kinds of contests, I don't really care what wins. I'm pretty laid back, and usually whatever makes it to the finals is pretty good. But when I saw these three designs, I couldn't help but really, really dislike two of them. The snowboarder design is nothing more than one big advertisement for the ski industry. Besides, the boarder doesn't look like he's catching air time, he looks more like he's just been hit by a steam roller. Are knees supposed to bend like that?

And the beehive, while very recognizable to folks here in Utah, is just going to be misunderstood by those 'abroad'. I can overhear the conversation in millions of homes across the country.

"Honey, why did those Utahns pick a cow pie to put on the back of their quarter?"

Luckily, where the first two failed miserably, the third one hit the nail, or rather the spike, right on the head. It's a nice design visually, it reminds people of our pioneer heritage, and best of all, promontory is in my backyard.

Anyway, the good governor has made the right decision. Hopefully he'll like how it feels, and decide to do it more often...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

18 years after the civil war.

Sometimes I feel old, but this woman was my age in 1911.

She was born 18 years after the civil war started.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Bullies Update

I've gotten six chapters up so far. If the book ends up being the same length as Chickens, then I'm roughly a third of the way through, which feels about right. Please drop by to check out the progress.