Gadgets I Should Get Rid Of?

March 29, 2011

I just finished reading the article “Gadgets You Should Get Rid Of (or Not)” on Yahoo, and I have some issues with their list.

1) Desktop Computer: The article quickly qualifies this entry by stating “Assuming you are not a hardcore gamer or a video editor,” you should get a laptop. I admit, modern laptops are almost on par with a desktop computer, but the writer misses a very big point – cost of upgrade. Desktop computers allow for easy upgrades with minimal costs, while the cost of upgrading a laptop can be high as well as limited.

2) High-speed Internet at Home: If you are doing any time of gaming or streaming of content online, keep the high-speed internet. Mi-Fi’s are nice when you are away from home, but when you are where you typically use the internet, stick with the real deal.

3) Cable TV: This is questionable. If you aren’t a major view of cable network channels, then you probably don’t have cable TV already (or at least you have the basic package). Coupled with the high-speed internet, if you are going to stream your movie/television content online, you need a reliable service (with no limits).

4) Point-and-shoot Cameras: “Lose it” says the author. I say he’s “lost it” already. For starters, I have a sneaky suspicion that the writer is a smart phone/gadget kinda guy (you’ll see a trend later on). While I have to admit that the new pocket cameras lack the quality of a bulkier digital camera with optical zoom, they are very convenient and easy to keep with you at all times. Secondly, who cares if your camera doesn’t have apps or if you can’t manipulate your photo right there on the device (though some do)? I can’t think of anyone I know who goes around complaining that their cameras lack those features.

5) Camcorder: To this I do agree. Camcorders are quickly becoming obsolete. Unless you are a professional videographer, your digital cameras can take quality videos that can easily be shared with others.

6) USB Thumb Drive: This guy obviously didn’t take into account work-related materials. You can’t simply upload business materials to third-party sites without the potential risk of that information being accessed by an unauthorized person. USB’s are convenient ways to carry information to/from multiple machines, especially if your computers don’t have readable-writable CD drives. Sorry author, but you are way off the mark on this one.

7) Digital Music Player: Here is the second time he recommends a smart phone. MP3 players are quite inexpensive and easy to carry without having a bulky smart phone in your pocket. My little Sony Walkman is a USB drive that plugs directly into a computer for easy uploading of music and recharging (quick charge). It weighs next to nothing, and is fantastic when working outside.

8) Alarm Clocks: Oddly enough, he champions a real clock over a smart phone (only time). Can’t really comment too much on this for the sole obvious reason – it’s easy to tap the snooze button on an alarm clock, rather than fumbling around on a smart phone.

9) GPS Unit: Yes, they are about the size and weight of a smart phone (third positive reference), but you can’t simply let your spouse/children take your phone on a road trip (unless you are buying everyone smart phones). Plus, many cars are being to offer GPS systems as regular options (or even standard in some cases) on new vehicles.

10) Books: “Duh!” Kindles are great tools, but sometimes nothing beats holding a real book, especially if you are needing to skip around in the text and/or if it is something that contains a lot of tables (like in textbooks). Still, if you are an avid reader of story books, e-readers are the way of the future.

Those are his list of ten items. I’ll add one more:

11) Smart phones: If you don’t feel like spending over $50 plus more on expensive data plans to enjoy your music, broadcast your Mi-Fi, take pictures, or find yourself when you are lost, just stick with a simple flip phone. They are usually free from your provider, and you can get away with spending as little as $30/month of the basic of plans.

Fun With Words

March 22, 2011

Here’s a little English language humor to enjoy today.

1. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, FLOOR…

2. Can an Atheist get insurance against ACTS OF GOD?

3. Atheism is a non-PROPHET organization.

4. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have MONKEYS AND APES?

5. The main reason that Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the BAD GIRLS live.

6. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, “Where’s the self-help section?” She said that if she told me, IT WOULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE.

7. What if there were no HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS?

8. If a deaf person signs SWEAR WORDS, does his mother was his hands with soap?

9. If someone with MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

10. Is there another word for “SYNONYM?”

11. Where do FOREST RANGERS go to “Get away from it all?”

12. What do you do when you see an ENDANGERED ANIMAL eating an ENDANGERED PLANT?

13. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they GARNISH his wages?

14. Would a FLY without wings be called a WALK?

15. Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will CLEAN them?

16. If a TURTLE doesn’t have a shell, is he homeless or naked?

17. Can Vegetarians ea ANIMAL CRACKERS?

18. If the police arrest a MIME, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

21. What was the best thing before SLICED BREAD?

22. One nice thing about EGOTISTS: they don’t talk about other people.

24. How is it possible to have a CIVIL war?

25. If one SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMER drowns, do the rest drown too?

26. If you ate both PASTA and ANTIPASTO, would you still be hungry?

27. If you try to FAIL … and SUCCEED … which have you done?

28. Whose cruel idea was it for the word “LISP” to have an ‘S’ in it?

29. Why are hemorrhoids called ‘HEMORRHOIDS’ instead of ‘ASSTEROIDS’?

30. Why is it called TOURIST SEASON if we can’t shoot at them?

31. Why is there an expiration date on SOUR cream?

32. If you spin an oriental person in a circle three times, do they become DISORIENTED?

Darn it, NFL!

March 15, 2011

Well, the talks didn’t conclude on a positive note, and now the NFL Union has filed to decertify and some of the players are filing an anti-trust lawsuit against the league.  This is definitely putting a damper on my hopes for the Giants returning to the Superbowl this season.  However, there is always a chance that the two sides can reach an agreement, though I don’t think it will be before the draft begins.  But why should there be a draft if there won’t be a season?  Some else who is smarter than me will have to answer that one.

So what should I do this year if there isn’t football?  Basketball will be over (though I can’t stand watching that on TV).  Baseball?  Boring!  Golf?  That has potential, but only if I am playing and the weather is nice outside.  Maybe I should download some football coaching videos, just in case the players start up their own impromptu league and they need someone to stand on the sideline with a clipboard!

In any case, I am highly disappointed with the NFL.  They are definitely ruining my plans!

Will There be Football Next Year?

March 10, 2011

The clock is ticking. The representatives from each side are stating their positions as well as their demands. Neither side is budging. No, this isn’t the Congress, and I’m not talking about the budget. This is the NFL, and the owners and players union are trying to overcome their impasse to avoid a lockout of the 2011-2012 season.

As you know, I love professional football. Not including the Olympics, it is the only sport I look forward to each year. Hockey, baseball, basketball, etc are only interesting in 30-second clips on ESPN, especially when a player makes a major mistake or an incredible play. So the fact that I might miss out of the chance that the New York Giants return to the Super Bowl is very disheartening.

The stalemate between the two sides is, as with most things, over how much money the owners can earn. I do agree that the owners deserve to make money, since they are the ones who risk capital in this major investment that could be very successful (New England Patriots) or perennial losers (Detroit Lions). However, their desire to fill their stadiums with as many people and as often as possible has them wanting to extend the season to 18 games.

On the other hand, the true talent of the sport (the players) are the ones who put their physical lives at risk to entertain us. The leather helmets are out, while the most advanced helmets are in. With the growing awareness of the long-term problems associated with concussions, new helmet designs are being made as well as increased pressure by the coaching staff to sit starters who may have suffered a concussion during the game. With the owners wanting to add two additional games to an already extended schedule, the players are calling foul because they fear their long-term health (and demanding long-term health care coverage).

I don’t know if the two sides will come to an agreement this Friday, or if they will extend the talks even further. I do know that if the owners do get an 18-game season, they need to have two “bye weeks” in order to allow the teams to rest their players and allow them to heal. Also, these bye weeks can’t start in week 4. Seriously? Does it really do a team any favor to have a week off in the fourth week of the season, when there are 13 (or 15, if the season is extended) more games to be played? Bye weeks shouldn’t occur before week 6.

On the flip side, if there is a lock out, player jersey’s might be on sale since we don’t know if the players will return to their current teams. Of course, if you are after Super Bowl goodies, you’ll have an additional year of Green Bay Packers memorabilia to deal with (which is great if you are a fan of the Cheese Heads). Until then, I’ll curl up in my New York Giants Snuggie and wait patiently.

Puppet Stage

March 8, 2011

The youth of my church attend a regional competition each year where they are tested on a variety of areas, to include Bible knowledge, website design, singing/song leading, and puppet performances.  For those of you that follow my other site, the kids have been doing puppet performances for a few years now.  I’ve made the puppets over  the years, allowing the students to decorate  them so they can perform their plays.  This year, however, there was a new requirement – the puppet stage.

In the past, there was a puppet stage available for the kids to use.  However, this year there is a requirement for the churches to bring their own.  We received the following diagram and text telling us how the puppet stage should be created:

All measurements are from the top railing.
Puppet stage parts list:
12 pieces of 10ft. 1.5 PVC
18 of 1.5 T-Joints
8 of 1.5 90-degree elbows
6 of 1.5 x 1.5 adapter couplings
6 of 1.5 x 3 adapter couplings
1 box of 0.25 phillips head screws.  Drill a hole at each connection and put in a screw to make connection secure.  Do not glue or tape together.  This will make storage easier.
Heavy poly cotton black fabric (black only) – velcro

That is all I received.  So, putting my engineering and math background to use, I had to calculate the actual lengths of the pipe sections in order to achieve the desired dimensions.  This was easy to achieve once I made some preliminary measurements of the exterior and interior of the various fittings.  It took approximately one week to do the math and make the cuts (working about an hour or two each night after work).  The frame went together as seen below:

Then came the hard part – the fabric walls.  I have to admit, I can channel my inner Betsy Ross when needed, but I am far from proficient when it comes to measuring and cutting fabric (especially when it is constantly shifting).  After a lot of fitting, pinning, and refitting, I was able to get a sense of the size and shape of the pieces of fabric necessary in order to cover the frame.  With one piece being 18-feet wide by 5-feet tall, the measuring and pinning took a long while to complete, and that was before I had to trim, hem, and attach the velcro.  In all, the fabric took about one to two weeks to complete.

Lastly, I had to take the whole project apart and bring it to the church building for the kids to assemble on their own.  One of the requirements is that the group assembles, performs, and disassembles the stage in only 12 minutes.  While I have an issue with that requirement, I came up with a way that can be done.  By having the stage partially assembled (in three sections) off to the side, the can walk in and simply attach four poles to complete the assembly.  That shouldn’t take any more than 2 minutes, especially since the coordinator has decided to use the stage without the one-foot extensions at the base of the poles (lowering it to 6.5 feet tall).

Since the fabric around the front and side of the front-half of the stage is a single piece, the first section would already be draped in fabric and simply need the side arms raised into position to connect to the vertical middle section (the second section).  Lastly, the horizontal pieces that connect the middle to the rear of the stage (the third section) would already have the fabric attached, so all that is needed is a tall person to connect the poles together and the stage is completed.  (We will have to practice this some to coordinate the assembly.)

With the stage completed, it’s time to turn the attention towards the puppets themselves.  More on that to come later.