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Thursday, December 31, 2009     
  
Goodbye '00s!
    

Yes, I know it has been a long time since I've done a blog entry.  Mostly I've been posting to Twitter and Facebook lately, and hopefully this site will get a much-needed overhaul in the coming year.  In the meantime, when I'm not posting here, you can find me at:

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/JasonCross/
Facebook:  http://facebook.com/JasonMPCross
Flickr:  http://flickr.com/JasonCross
YouTube:  http://youtube.com/IOIIOOO

With the '00s coming to an end, I thought it would be fun to look back at 10 year ago.

10 years ago...

... I had just sold CrossPaths - my dialup ISP - to Lighthouse Communications earlier in the month, Dottie Lu was my office manager, and I was in the process of hiring Phil to help me grow the company further.

... The CrossPaths website looked like this:  http://web.archive.org/web/19991128145512/http://crosspaths.net/ and it looked good for the time, darn it!

... 56K was just starting to be widely available.

... I had never blogged.

... I didn't own a digital camera.

... I didn't own a traditional camera.

... Photography wasn't even a hobby of mine.

... I had not yet gone on my first (of many) trips to Mexico with the family.

... I didn't have an MP3 player (though I did have a handful of MP3s on my computer by that point).

... I didn't own the domain jasoncross.com yet.

... I was living in an apartment with Ian, and I was in the process of closing on the purchase of my first house.

... 256MB of RAM was a LOT of RAM and cost ~$250.

... 80GB of hard drive space was HUGE and cost ~$400.

... Windows98 Second Edition was the standard OS.  Windows Me had not yet started its short run, and Windows XP was still 1.5 years away.

... I was assuming that if Y2K turned out to be pretty bad, I'd be out of a career having few non-technical skills at the time.

... My nephew Nate was just born and my nephew Sebastian was 2.

... The Palm Pilot IIIe was cutting edge and email on a portable device other than a laptop with a dialup modem was pretty much unheard of.

... None of my friends were yet married, and now nearly all of them are.

... I was still 4.5 years away from meeting my future wife.

Living day to day, it's easy to forget how much things actually change in a relatively short period of time.  Writing this list reminded me of an article I wrote for my old column in the Des Moines Register.  It's called Velocitized and it can be read by clicking this link, but here's an excerpt:

Excerpt from Over Your Head column "Velocitized"
By Jason Cross
Originally printed May 1, 2001 in the Des Moines Register

Twenty years ago, Yahoo was a term for excitement, Google was 10 to the 100th power, and the term "web browser" conjured images of scientists studying spiders. Names like dot-com, Netscape, and hyperlink were little more than nonsense.

Riding in a fast-moving car, the mind quickly gets used to the sensation of speed, making the passenger lose their sense of velocity. In driver's education class, this is called being "velocitized." The wealth of change associated with technology's evolution is much the same.

In a society where rapid changes in technology have become commonplace over the last generation, it is easy to get used to the fast pace.

We rarely realize the broad changes taking place around us, but twenty years from now we will see this time as the birth of such things as broadband and digital audio/video. The advance of technology continues as fast as ever. We are just velocitized.

Happy 2010 Everyone!

   
Posted by Jason on 12/31/2009 at 3:59:30 PM #
Thursday, June 11, 2009     
  
On the Passing of a Leopard Gecko
    

In the fall of 1996, when I was 18, I brought home a baby leopard gecko from the pet store.  Over the years I had many pet lizards, and I was looking for a new one.  The store owner suggest the leopard gecko as they were very docile, so I took his advice, bought the two-week old hatchling, and brought it home.  I named her L.


L - approx 1 year old

L was always very easy going.  She was quiet, never bit, and generally took it easy.  One time, in 1999 or so, the bookshelf her home was on fell over while I was gone.  When I got home to my apartment, the tank was on its side, and L was nowhere to be found.  I left her rock cave out on the bathroom floor that night, and the next morning she was sleeping in it! 

Leopard Gecko Peeking Out (by JasonCross)

It's funny - I never expected to have L for so long.  Before L, my typical reptile experience was that they lived a couple of years at most.  13 years is a long time to have a pet gecko in my experience.  In the time I had L, I lived my entire adult life to date, lived in four homes, started and sold my Internet company, have had my entire career, and met and married my wonderful wife.  As I've often pointed out to Sebastian - my oldest nephew - L was around before HE was.

The last couple of years, it's really stood out how long L has been around.  When I'd go to Petco or PetSmart to buy crickets, the cashiers would often ask what I was buying the crickets for.  When I told them it was for my 13 year old leopard gecko, they often exclaimed that they had a leopard gecko as well, but that they had never had one live nearly that long. 

L Gecko (by JasonCross)
My favorite photo of L

A little over a week ago, I noticed L was extraordinarily thin.  She ate some crickets and seemed better for a few days, but yesterday she suddenly looked thinner than ever and would only move very slowly.  When I picked her up, she only weakly responded.  She seemed far too weak to catch crickets, so I bought some mealworms which I placed in front of her, but she just laid there.  Later she had crawled into her cave, and later yet she lied outside of it, between the cave and the glass.  And this morning she had crawled into the middle of the tank, and she moved no more.

Kim and I buried L this morning in one of our landscaping beds.

L - you are missed already.  You had far more a presence in my life than I had ever expected.  You were the only lizard that I could ever imagine Kim even liking, much less loving enough to cry over your passing.  You were beautifully colored, quiet, and as the pet store owner (whose store has long since gone out of business, you were around so long) predicted, you were very docile, easy to hold and show friends and family who never looked at or touched a lizard before.

Goodbye buddy.

Bleh! (by JasonCross)

   
Posted by Jason on 6/11/2009 at 9:44:00 AM #
Saturday, January 31, 2009     
  
Announcing iFreshener - The Virtual Air Freshener for the iPhone and iPod touch!
    

This weekend I launched my first iPhone app

iFreshener is the first virtual air freshener for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  I created it for two reasons:

  1. There seem to be hundreds of iPhone apps revolving around making the iPhone fart, burp and otherwise virtually smell - so I figured there needed to be an app to counteract virtual smells with virtual air freshening!
     
  2. I wanted a relatively basic application to test the process of submitting and selling an application.

iFreshener

If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, I hope you'll consider giving iFreshener a try.  It's only $0.99 - cheap!

[iFreshener - Shake and Spray - Virtual Air Freshener]

   
Posted by Jason on 1/31/2009 at 9:13:09 AM #
Wednesday, September 24, 2008     
  
Will You Vote Optimus or Megatron?
    

The election season is heating up!  I always enjoy the Presidential debates, and last night's was no exception.  I took a few screenshots from the TV last night of what I felt were key moments between Optimus and Megatron.

Cybertronian Presidential Debate (by JasonCross)

The economy is obviously an important component of this election.  Energon prices are up and the CyStock Market is down.  Many Transformers are roaming the streets without a job worth changing shape for.  The past several million years of Decepticon leadership has left a widening gap between the havebots and havenotbots.  But will a change in administration really be enough to turn things around?  Optimus Prime seems to think so, but what about those who say an Autobot administration are all tracks and spend?

Cybertronian Presidential Debate (by JasonCross)

Another hot topic for Transformers this election season is clearly the ongoing dependence on Energon.  This precious life-giving energy is in ever shorter supply, and the Decepticon's plan of opening up new sources of energon by tapping Earth has brought the eternal war to that planet as well.  Optimus Prime is advocating change in this area, moving more bots to alternative energy sources such as solar and fusion power.  Megatron, too, has come out claiming to want energon alternatives, but has also advocated further expansion of new energon sources on Earth including the possible conversion of Earth oil into energon.

Cybertronian Presidential Debate (by JasonCross)

It's been several years since Unicron the World Eater attacked Cybertron and was reportedly destroyed by Autobot intervention, but many Transformers still fear his return and the destruction of the planet.  Megatron claims that only through the destructive power of Decepticon rule can Cybertron be kept ever-safe from a future Unicron attack.  Optimus says that the threat has passed, but can we ever be sure?

Which side will YOU vote for?

Optimus-Magnus Campaign Sign (by JasonCross)    Megatron-Starscream Campaign Sign (by JasonCross)

   
Posted by Jason on 9/24/2008 at 9:50:42 AM #
Friday, July 18, 2008     
  
Photo Face-off!
    

I received word today that three of my four photos entered into the Iowa State Fair photo competition were accepted!  That beats my all-time record of...one.  So yay!  And one of them apparently won an award!  I won't find out which three got in and which won what for a couple of weeks though.

The photos I entered this year were:

Red Lily Interior (by JasonCross)
Red Lily Interior

L Gecko (by JasonCross)
Leopard Gecko

Bandwidth (by JasonCross)
Bandwidth

British Museum Entryway (by JasonCross)
British Museum

Any guesses as to which three made it in or which one won an award?  I can't wait to find out!

   
Posted by Jason on 7/18/2008 at 12:39:03 AM #
Saturday, July 12, 2008     
  
More Problems and Finally Some Resolution with Apple
    

After our misadventure with Apple earlier this week, I started looking on eBay for a used phone in good condition that we could buy.  Unfortunately, most were priced around $300 - $350 for the 8GB model.  As I had $200 in Apple Store gift certificates from last year, I finally decided this morning, to heck with it, I'd just buy a 3G iPhone, use the gift certs on it, and pay the $15 extra a month for 3G even though we don't have it here.

Before heading up to the Apple Store, I called first to make sure they still had the 16GB white model in stock.  They did, and while they couldn't hold one for me, they had plenty of stock.  I went up to the store along with Calvin who came for moral support.

I walked in and immediately found a salesperson.  He went to the back, got me the 3G white phone, and we started the buying process.  Ironically, he used a PocketPC device to enter the data in about my AT&T account. And during this process we hit a snag.

The system sent back a message saying that my account was not able to be activated and that I had to go to the AT&T store.  The salesperson asked me if mine was a business account.  I explained it was not, but that we had my wife's REMAX affiliation number on the account as it supposedly carried a discount, though we had never received it.

"Bad news," he said.  "You have to go to the AT&T store to buy this.  And they are out of phones."

"And I bet they won't take my $200 credit either."

"Nope," he replied.

I told the salesperson that I was going to the AT&T store to have them remove the FAN affiliation from my account and then come back to buy the phone.  They are in the same mall as the Apple Store, so it didn't seem like it would be a big deal.  "Will you please hang on to this phone for me?" I asked.

"Don't worry, we have plenty of them."

So I head across the mall and upstairs to the AT&T store.  There I found a clerk and asked them to remove my FAN number.

"I'm sorry.  We've been told that we can't remove the discount affiliations any longer."

What?!

"You have to buy the phone from us."

Despite the fact that they couldn't take my credit.  And that they were out of phones.

"We can direct order a phone for you.  It will arrive in 8-10 business days."

Two weeks.  While the Apple Store has phones in stock now.

I left the AT&T store, dazed.  What more could go wrong?  I called Kim and told her.

Then I had the idea to call AT&T directly.  I got someone on the phone within a few minutes and asked them to remove the FAN from my account.  No problem, they told me, and I could even add it back on later.  Great!  FINALLY, something was going right with this whole thing.  I returned to the Apple Store.

And there I found out that those phones that they had "plenty" of were now out of stock.

"You're kidding me.  I was just here and you said you had plenty."

He apologized, saying that I should try back tomorrow.  "You're getting more in on a Sunday?" I asked.  Nope, sorry, he meant Monday, good thing I asked since it's 50 miles round trip to the Apple Store from where we live.

"Oh, and if you call first, we can hold one for you."

But I asked you to hold one for me.  And when I called earlier they said you couldn't hold any.  "Oh, we should be able to.  Call first."

I drove home to Indianola and dropped Calvin off. 

When I got home, I found Kim on the phone taking to an Apple customer care rep from their 800 number.  She had been on hold for about 45 minutes and had just got the guy on the phone.  We explained the whole story, from the accident, to the repair refusal, to the events trying to buy a new phone.  After some delays, he forwarded us on to a support supervisor.

We waited on hold for over an hour, but finally got the support supervisor.  Again we explained the whole story of what went on.  When I finished there was a pause, and then: 

"I'm sorry.  My head is spinning trying to take in all you're saying.  This is ridiculous.  I can see why you are so mad - this is what makes people hate companies!" he told us.  "It seems to me that you have been honest from the start and just wanted help, and every step of the way you've been jerked around."

And then he made good on what he said.  Even though the damage was by our fault and was outside of warranty, he told us he is having a replacement phone shipped to us at no charge.  We don't even have to pay the $200 repair/replace charge we were going to originally.  "I am going to personally see this through for you guys," he told us, and then gave us his direct phone number and his email address so we could reach him if needed.

All told, we spent 3 1/2 hours on the phone with Apple support, but in the end we found someone who helped us and acknowledged our problems from the past week.  He also told me that they would be following up with the Apple Store directly, as they had handled this entire issue terribly.

So supposedly Kim will finally have her replacement iPhone this week.  And I am hanging on to my 8GB first gen phone for the time being.  I figure I will hold off upgrading at least until 3G is available here, and most likely until a 32GB model comes out.

   
Posted by Jason on 7/12/2008 at 11:40:13 PM #
Thursday, July 10, 2008     
  
Apple - Pretty Products, Bad Customer Service
    

Last week marked the 1 year anniversary of the release of the Apple iPhone. Unfortunately, fate caused my wife to mark the occasion by accidentally dropping her iPhone into some water.  Yikes! 

Typically, they say to remove the battery immediately when you get a phone wet.  The iPhone battery is not removable, so that wasn't possible.  And suddenly the screen went white.  I managed to turn the phone off, or, at least, to blank the screen, so I put the phone under a fan overnight to dry.

The next morning I turned on the phone and got the icon saying the phone was in recovery mode.  I plugged it into her computer and proceeded to reload her backup on to the phone.  It looked for the moment like it would be a full working restore - and there was much rejoicing.  But then I tried to use the menu button to return to the main iPhone screen from the calendar application.  Nothing.  Apparently the menu button was no longer working.

We made an appointment at the West Des Moines Apple store to see one of their techs that morning.  When we got there, they told us that they could replace the phone for $200, where they would just give us a refurbished phone and swap SIM cards.  With the new iPhones coming out in less than two weeks, we asked if we could think about it, and they said sure.

I started researching the new iPhones.  The biggest downside that I could find to one of the new iPhones was that they required the update to the 3G data plan.  This data plan is $30 per month, where our current iPhone data plan is $20 per month.  Why the difference?  Because 3G is faster.  Or at least it would be, if it were available anywhere in our state.  But if you get the new phone, you have to get the data plan.  Oh, and with the 3G data plan, text messages are no longer included, so it would be at least $5 more per month to add a base 200 text message plan (which is currently included with the $20 old iPhone plan). 

So basically we were looking at $15 more per month for no new features.  Oh, I guess there is GPS that can't be used for turn guidance.  Woo.

But I thought, 16GB of size would be ok, but I really didn't want a 3G phone because of the unnecessary extra costs.  Now you're probably thinking, oh, it's just another $15 per month, what's the big deal?  But consider that we are already on a 2100 minute family plan with two old iPhones, so we are already paying $150 per month before fees and taxes.  Anyway, I wondered if it would be possible to do the replace/repair on her phone and upgrade to the 16GB old phone in the process for an additional fee.  Monday this week I was in Des Moines for work, so I stopped by the Apple store to ask them, but they said that wasn't possible due to warranty reasons.  Ok, but I can bring my wife's phone up that was dropped in water and still replace it with the old model for $200? Yup.

Kim and I decided we'd better go up to the Apple store this evening so we could replace her phone, figuring it would be easier to do so before the (presumed) crowds of the 3G (speed not available here) iPhone launch.  We go to the support counter, and get the same guy I talked to Monday this week.

"How can I help you?" he asks.

"We were here eariler this week.  My wife dropped her phone in water accidentally, so we need to get it replaced."

"Oh, I'm sorry.  We are no longer able to replace water damaged phones.  With the new phones coming out, we could not recoup our investment in the repair," he says.

Jaws hit the ground.

"What?"

"If it was broken some other way, like if you had dropped it and cracked the screen, we could replace it.  But not if it was in water."

"But," I told him, "I was just in here a few days ago and was told you could replace it."

"Who told you that?" he asked.

"It was YOU!" I said.

"Sorry, but we just found this out on Friday."

"But I was here on Monday.  That was AFTER Friday."

"I'm sorry, but you can get one of the new phones."

"The ones that cost extra per month for a service we can't get here?"

"Unfortunately, yes."

My wife is a Realtor, and at this point was getting really upset.  She had been patiently working around not being able to switch tasks on her phone for nearly two weeks, and now they were saying they wouldn't replace it (at our cost none the less) after all.  I asked to talk to the manager.

The manager came over and asked us how he could help.  I explained the situation, and he said he would be back in a moment, he needed to find out some more info.  I pointed out who we had talked to on the prior visits, and even told him the days and times if he wanted to verify our appointments with their support desk.  He went to the back room, and we waited.

"I'm sorry," he said upon his return, "but I've talked with our Geniuses (what they call their support people) and what they told you was correct *when they said it*.  But we've since been told that we can't replace phones that are water damaged any longer."

"And when were you told this?" I asked.

"On Friday."

"But I was here on Monday the 7th!  That was AFTER Friday.  And I was told you could replace it.  What they told me was NOT right at the time, according to you, you were told 4 days prior that you couldn't do it."

"I'm sorry, but there is nothing I can do.  You can always by the new phone tomorrow."

"At the higher monthly price for a service we can't use?"

"Yes."

So we learned a couple lessons from this:

Lesson 1.  Apple apparently cares nothing for customer service. 

I shouldn't be surprised to learn this given the fact that a friend of mine had three MacBook Airs fail on him in a row and they did nothing to fix the situation.  Oh and they told him a month earlier that the 30" screen he bought two years ago with a screen problem - a problem he reported right after he go it two years prior was having an issue and they said was due to a firmware issue on his laptop - was actually broken and now that he was out of warranty he would have to pay to fix it.

Lesson 2.  If you are going to trip with your iPhone, make sure it lands on cement and breaks instead of it getting wet, because apparently they will fix/replace it if it's broken but not if it has water damage.

So in the end we will most likely buy the new phone and pay the extra monthly fee for the service we don't have here.  We've got to have a working phone.  Oh well.  It does make me think twice about Apple products in the future though.

   
Posted by Jason on 7/10/2008 at 11:39:16 PM #
  
Gorby the Video
[Video on the Web]  
    

So weird...


GORBACHOV: THE MUSIC VIDEO - BIGGER AND RUSSIANER from Tom Stern on Vimeo.

   
Posted by Jason on 7/10/2008 at 10:27:16 AM #
Friday, May 16, 2008     
  
So Bizarre...
[Art]  
    

I found this video online, linked to from the guys at Penny Arcade.  It's by a street artist in Brazil, the entire thing done over time on public walls.  It's crazy, intriguing and bit disturbing all at once.


MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

   
Posted by Jason on 5/16/2008 at 9:43:30 AM #
Monday, May 5, 2008     
  
Happy Cinko de Mayo 2008!
    

The Uglydoll Cinko wishes you a happy Cinko de Mayo!

Happy Cinko de Mayo 2008! (by JasonCross)

   
Posted by Jason on 5/5/2008 at 8:31:36 AM #
Tuesday, April 29, 2008     
  
Two Years of Marriage!
    

Today is Kim and my two year anniversary!  On April 29, 2006, Kim and I were married, and what followed (besides a great party at the Scottish Rite Consistory) has been two wonderful years.  I love you, sweetheart!

Dryer Cross Wedding - DSC_6378.5 (by JasonCross)

Click here to view our wedding photos on Flickr!

   
Posted by Jason on 4/29/2008 at 8:19:55 AM #
  
When the Frost is on the Pumpkin...seed?
    

What's with these sub-freezing overnight temperatures at the end of April?  Our yard is completely covered by frost this morning!  Good thing Kim and I put sheets on top of most of our emerging plants last night to help save them.  Last year we had a late snow and it stunted most of our landscaping and nearly all of our strawberries - hopefully this year will be better for our yard.

   
Posted by Jason on 4/29/2008 at 8:13:50 AM #
Friday, March 21, 2008     
  
Big Dog Robot Attacked
[Technomiscellany]  
    

Phil sent me this video of the crazily amazing Big Dog robot in testing.

The scariest part is the noise it makes...  eheheheheeeeehhhhheheheheeaaaaahhhhhheeeeehhhaa....

   
Posted by Jason on 3/21/2008 at 11:04:30 AM #
Monday, March 3, 2008     
  
Making the Switch
    

CompUSA is dead.  Adam and I went to the West Des Moines store when they opened yesterday to pick at the bones, and I surprised myself by buying a Mac Pro. 

I had seen the system at the store before, but it was never labeled with any information on what it was (in terms of processors, etc), and it was always discounted very little. Yesterday, however, they had the boxes out for all of their remaining computers, so I was able to get some info on it.  And while the price tag on the side showed it as 30% off, there was another sign below all the Macs saying "Apple Systems 40% Off".

While I evaluated the purchase, the first thing I did was stake out a position right in front of the system.  This made others think I was already buying it, giving me some more time to evaluate.  The system was $2500 originally, but after 40% off, it was $1500.  I pulled up Apple's website and checked how much the same system bought as a refurbished computer would be.  $2000, so $1500 was good there.  I then gave Phil a call to ask what he thought and get some info on relative speed.  He thought it sounded like a good buy.  At that point I had another potential buyer next to me, so I made a point of saying "No, I didn't think so.  I think I'll pass." to the phone after Phil had hung up. 

"Not going for the Mac?" the other guy said.

"I don't think so.  My friend tells me that it's actually cheaper refurbished from Amazon."

"Yeah, that's what I thought too," said the other guy, who then walked off.

I then started checking eBay to make sure it wasn't cheaper there.  It wasn't.  I was checking some forums to make sure my video cards would work in it (I run two video cards for three monitors), when another guy came up.  He pointed at the price tag on the system (that still said 30% off) and said "Yeah, if it was a couple hundred cheaper I'd buy it.  I was looking at it yesterday, and as it is, it's only a little below what a refurb would cost from Apple direct."  Adam and I didn't bother to illuminate him to the fact that the system was now another $250 cheaper than the price tag from the day before.

I finally found my video cards would work fine for the system (no one can say I don't try to be an informed buyer), so we boxed up the system and carried it to the check out line.  And now I'm a Mac owner.

My first orders of business are going to be to upgrade it to Leopard and install Parallels on it.  Once Parallels is on it, it is able to run Windows applications, and there is a feature letting me move my entire existing system over to the Mac.  Hopefully that will speed the migration up.

When thinking about moving to the Mac, the following reasons came to mind:

  • Macs can now run Windows either on its own or in a Window with Parallels.  And the latest version of Parallels lets you run Windows programs directly, as if they were Mac applications.
  • I've had ongoing problems with my last two PCs, so I've been thinking about going to a bought (versus built) system anyway.  This is the first desktop computer I didn't build myself since I graduated from high school.
  • I've really begun to appreciate the Apple design elegance, and it feels like now I can get the best of both worlds.
  • I know Windows inside and out, so I'm looking forward to learning a new system in the MacOS.
  • I was tired of hitting the 4GB limit in 32-bit Windows that actually left me with only 2.5GB of RAM accessible.  I run a lot of programs at once and want to be able to use the memory I buy and need.
  • Anymore, I feel it's less about the operating system and more about what I can do with it, so I've felt less "loyalty" to any one OS, like Windows.

We'll see how it goes!

   
Posted by Jason on 3/3/2008 at 9:30:39 AM #
Monday, February 25, 2008     
  
The Quick and the Dead
[Flickr]  
    

The Quick and the Dead (by JasonCross)

While vacationing in Mexico last month, one of the few things I bought was this day of the dead catrina.  The movie poster above was made using it for a Flickr photo group I'm in.

   
Posted by Jason on 2/25/2008 at 11:59:59 PM #
Wednesday, February 20, 2008     
  
Michael Bay Likes Things Awesome
    

A funny ad with director Michael Bay for Verizon:

"Awesome pussycat."

   
Posted by Jason on 2/20/2008 at 3:50:15 PM #
Monday, February 4, 2008     
  
On a Beach in Bucerias
    

Kite Photo from Bucerias

Kite photo from the beach in Bucerias

   
Posted by Jason on 2/4/2008 at 10:17:38 AM #
Sunday, January 27, 2008     
  
Oh Tom Cruise, You Nut
    

From Scott Bateman:

   
Posted by Jason on 1/27/2008 at 11:24:41 AM #
Friday, January 18, 2008     
  
The Dark Knight
[Movies]  
    

I can't wait to see the sequel to Batman Begins - The Dark Knight.  This trailer I found online makes it look a little lighter in tone than the original, though:

   
Posted by Jason on 1/18/2008 at 2:09:47 PM #
Tuesday, January 15, 2008     
  
Kite Aerial Video - First Attempt
    

Yesterday was my first real attempt at Kite Aerial Video.  Kim got me a KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) kit for Christmas, and I'd been eagerly awaiting a windy day to test it with my TX1 in video mode.

The video is not the greatest, but it's a start.

The biggest problem of the day - combine 19 degree temp with high winds.  COLD!  The kite used was my 12 foot Mayan Double Delta Conyne, and it was flown to 500 feet.

   
Posted by Jason on 1/15/2008 at 9:49:07 AM #
Saturday, January 5, 2008     
  
Marking 30 Years
    

Today I turn 30 years old.  Hooray!

Kim got me a Crumpler backpack so I won't have to borrow Phil's when travelling anymore - it's like a gift for me AND for Phil! ;)  We had dinner and some games with friends last night, today we're getting lunch, and tonight I;m going out with the family.

Birthdaymus Prime (by JasonCross)

   
Posted by Jason on 1/5/2008 at 10:22:59 AM #
Sunday, December 23, 2007     
  
Happy Holidays!
    

Santaformers

Happy Holidays from Kim and I too all!

   
Posted by Jason on 12/23/2007 at 11:32:28 PM #
Monday, December 3, 2007     
  
Happy 30th Birthday Ian!
[Family and Friends]  
    

A visitor stopped by today to wish Ian a happy 30th birthday!

Happy 30th Birthday Ian!

Happy 30th Birthday, Ian!  It should be an exciting year for you, and we all wish you the very best!

   
Posted by Jason on 12/3/2007 at 11:17:51 AM #
Friday, November 23, 2007     
  
Christmas Tree!
    

Kim and I put our Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving Eve!

2007 Christmas Tree
Click to view full size for detail

I love our Christmas tree - we have such a great eclectic set of ornaments!

   
Posted by Jason on 11/23/2007 at 2:37:02 PM #
Friday, November 16, 2007     
  
Not The Daily Show with Some Writer
    

A message from the writers of The Daily Show regarding the writer strike.

From YouTube, thanks to Adam

   
Posted by Jason on 11/16/2007 at 1:26:26 PM #
Wednesday, November 14, 2007     
  
LOST's Damon Lindelof Talk About the Writers Guild Strike
    

As many know, the Writers Guild of America went on strike last week over the issue of receiving royalties from Internet distribution.  Should the strike continue through the end of the year, nearly all shows on TV currently will end mid-season.  The show 24 has delayed its upcoming season indefinitely until the strike is over as they don't want to risk a break in the season as it airs.

Damon Lindelof, head writer and co-creator of LOST, wrote a great article about the strike and the future of the TV medium.  Here's an excerpt:

The Writers Guild of America (of which I am a proud member) has gone on strike. I have spent the past week on the picket line outside Walt Disney Studios, my employer, chanting slogans and trudging slowly across the crosswalk.

The motivation for this drastic action — and a strike is drastic, a fact I grow more aware of every passing day — is the guild’s desire for a portion of revenues derived from the Internet. This is nothing new: for more than 50 years, writers have been entitled to a small cut of the studios’ profits from the reuse of our shows or movies; whenever something we created ends up in syndication or is sold on DVD, we receive royalties. But the studios refuse to apply the same rules to the Internet.

My show, “Lost,” has been streamed hundreds of millions of times since it was made available on ABC’s Web site. The downloads require the viewer to first watch an advertisement, from which the network obviously generates some income. The writers of the episodes get nothing. We’re also a hit on iTunes (where shows are sold for $1.99 each). Again, we get nothing.

You can read the whole article here.

While I'm not happy with the idea that my favorite shows might end mid-season, I completely agree with the motivations behind the strike.  Writers deserve to be paid for non-traditional distribution.  It's often the work of a good team of writers more than anything that makes a show great or not - shows like LOST, Battlestar Galactica, House and Heroes turn on the strength of their writers - and those writers deserve their fair share as distribution moves into the future.

   
Posted by Jason on 11/14/2007 at 7:47:19 AM #
Tuesday, November 13, 2007     
  
GOP Candidate or Buffy Villain?
[Talking Politics]  
    

Kim's sister Kristin showed me this last weekend: 

From AmericaBlog

   
Posted by Jason on 11/13/2007 at 10:54:36 AM #
Friday, October 26, 2007     
  
Election 2000 Flashback: Superfriends vs Legion of Doom
    

Last week they rolled out a new website for The Daily Show, now including all video from the show since Jon Stewart took over in 1999. I remembered the skit below from 2000 as a personal favorite, so I was glad to find it was now available online. Enjoy! 

 

 

 

   
Posted by Jason on 10/26/2007 at 9:57:22 AM #
Monday, October 22, 2007     
  
The Truth is Out There
[Travels]  
    

Adam and I investigated a reported phenomenon in Avebury UK.

   
Posted by Jason on 10/22/2007 at 4:26:46 PM #
Monday, October 8, 2007     
  
Farewell Touareg - Hello X3
    

I traded in my Touareg for a new car last weekend - a 2005 BMW X3 3.0i.

I'd been thinking for the past several months that it was time to get something new, mostly because the Touareg was out of warranty, had pretty poor fuel economy, had some pricey maintenance coming up, and just hadn't been the same since my deer hit last year. Looking at cars, I had considered:

  • The Infiniti FX, which I loved, but was pretty costly and had mileage as poor as the Touareg
  • The Nissan Rogue, which ended up being pretty on the outside but very CHEAP feeling on the inside
  • The 2008 Highlander Hybrid, which very nearly happened, except the hybrid 2008 doesn't come out for a couple months
  • Any car that met my criteria of being an SUV with decent mileage, good tech, and looked pretty/felt as comfortable as my Touareg, without being $45K+. And honestly felt like going less expensive.

So while looking at cars, we happened to stop at BMW of Des Moines. My car before the Touareg was a BMW - a brand I've always liked - but I honestly hadn't considered the BMW SUV line. We arrived at the dealership after they had closed, but a salesperson came out to talk to us as he had a buyer going through financing and was hanging around anyway.

We test-drove a 2004 X3, and even during the drive I wasn't really seriously considering the car. For one thing, it was used. And it didn't have all the tech I liked. Plus it was more than I was thinking for a used car. But then the salesperson said something that made me reconsider - he told me that A) they had 2.9% financing on the 2004s going through the end of the month (literally, through that night) and B) as it was the end of the month I was in a good position to negotiate with his sales manager.

Hmm...

When we got back, I told him that I hadn't planned on buying that night, but if we could hit a number I liked, then I'd consider it. He immediately went to work on trade-in value and loan payoff of my Touareg. This process took him an hour, during which I kept telling him that he might want to hold off until we talked price, as it might just be wasting his time. He continued. Eventually, we got to the initial offer.

I started off offering $7000 below Blue Book - a steal if they took it given that the X3 also now had a 100,000 BMW Certified Pre-owned Warranty. In exchange I would take posession of the car THAT NIGHT. They countered with $2300 off and tried showing my how cheap my payment would be with the 2.9% financing.

*** Never let them talk you into a price based on payment amount. The bottom line should ALWAYS be the actual price of the vehicle. ***

I told them a number $5000 below Blue Book and told them that was my number or I'd just leave it - how I wasn't really considering buying a car that night anyway and anything above wouldn't be worth it.

And that night I drove home with our new X3!

Our New Bimmer

Tomorrow I'm having some extra power outlets installed in the dash-storage unit, and having an HD Radio/iPod/Aux hookup installed to the stereo. I'm narrowing down a NAV unit, and am adding a bluetooth phone connection later this month.

   
Posted by Jason on 10/8/2007 at 4:20:40 PM #

 

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