Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Herndon Restaurants and Reviews

Herndon Restaurants and Reviews

In the Herdon area? Hungry? The above link seems like a pretty complete list of resturants in the area.

We still couldn't decide on one, so I grabbed the text of the file, stripped out the HTML, and ran it through the following command:

cat rest.txt | 
  perl -e 'srand; rand($.) < 1 && ($line = $_) while <>; print $line'

Just ran that command, and it suggested: Lone Star Steakhouse. Hmmm, maybe I need to improve the script.

Thanks to the Perl Cookbook for the above perl code.

Bias - mid point review

I'm half way through Bernard Goldberg's "Bias" book. So far I'm really impressed.

Pros: he clearly demonstrates a left wing bias in the news. He makes it clear that the bias isn't a left-wing plot but more of a result of mis-guided good intentions, or of a desire to get higher ratings. He also makes it clear that if such a high percentage of reporters were leaning to the right then we would probably have a conservative bias in the news.

Cons: he spends a bit too much time lamenting over his own situation (how he stood up against the networks and lost big time).

Bottom line: everyone should read/listen to this book and appreciate the bias around us. And then fix it.

I do like one solution he proposes: affermative action in the news room. But instead of hiring racial or ethnic minorities, hire those with differing views (like, heaven forbid, conservatives).

--Ben

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Inside Katrina


IMG_1091
Originally uploaded by mysterious chicken.
Here's a very cool view from inside of Katrina, from a NOAA plane.

A bit of related family history:
the story goes that my Grandpa used to
fly planes like these into hurricanes in
the South Pacific during WWII.

Way to go gramps!

Mmmmm...soy balls

Mmmmmm, now with soy balls. Just like Ma used to make.

Seriously, they couldn't have spent 5 more minutes to come up with a more appealing name?

--Ben

Community Policing

I caught this tender moment between an Arlington cop, a mom and her children. It's always nice to see the police doing something positive.

--Ben

What's RSS? The super easy explanation

Seth's Blog: What's RSS?

Check out the above link to learn about RSS. Now there's no excuse for not following all your blogs in an easy way. Yes Mom, this means you too.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Shira and Ben


IMG_8373
Originally uploaded by blumenth.
Waiting for Jared's wedding to start, we had to take the obligatory self-portrait.

Ahhh, that's the problem

We couldn't understand what was causing our commute to be so slow. Usually, it's just lots of volume, but this time there was a doosey of an accident.

--Ben

Startup School

Startup School

Everything you ever wanted to know about a startup...in 1 day. Hmmm, too bad I don't live in Cambridge.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Wedding Time

We are off to a wedding now. The wife looks great, and even I look passable.

Hopefully we'll have some nice after shots of the festivities. Stay tuned.

--Ben

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Our next venture into advertising

Notice on the right hand side an ad for Ideas2Executables. We're on Google...that means we made it to the big time, right?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Bullet in Nose


Nose
Originally uploaded by blumenth.
Just found this old picture, and it's one of our favorites! It shows a bullet fragment in my nose. How it got there is still unclear, but it will always make for a good story.

O'h brother, where art thou?

So, I'm feeling really dumb right about now. One of the activities I'm supposed to do with my car is lube the chassis. This is both common knowledge, as well as instructed in my maintenance repair guide. Fine, I'll lube.

But, for the life of me, I can't tell *where* I'm supposed to lube. The maintenance handbook tells you how to lube the chassis, but not where the lube points are. I also googled, no luck. I just finished a visual inspection, and I can't see anything obvious.

So, I'll go to plan D, and ask an expert (aka Justin).

I'm sure he'll show me something totally obvious, that has a big red arrow saying "lube me."

But, on a positive note, I didn't get crushed under the car (gfbppp).

--Ben

All dressed up, and nowhere to go....

Beamer and I picked up my tux at Syms. It even fit me! Now I just need to keep from staining/wrinkling it for the next 2 days.

--Ben

$30.00 Digital Camcorder

CVS Disposable Camcorder

This site describes how you can convert the CVS single use digital camcorder into multi use. I guess this falls into my category of hardware-hacking fun.

Perhaps you can use this to film the music video that accompanies your xbox film?

Publishing Thoughts

I've been dabbling with a different kind of programming language these last few days -- English. I'm trying to writeup my thoughts on a programming project I did. Now that I've got some of the thoughts down, I have to decide how to publish them. Here are some options I've come up with:

  • Plain text - this I can e-mail around and posted easily enough on my blog
  • Simple HTML -- I could always compose my document directly in blogger
  • TeX -- I've looked a bit into TeX2page and I'm really impressed. If you have to produce high quality documents for the web, and want them in HTML, this seems to be the way to go. It makes what I've written look all professional, too bad it can't fix the gramatical errors.
  • Wiki -- I think PbWiki is really cool. A free site where you can quickly make your own Wiki. This would be nice in that it would allow me to publish not just a single document, but a hyper-linked site.

What do you think? How do you prefer to publish your thoughts on the web?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Get Recipes on your Apple iPod

Get Recipes on your Apple iPod

I think this is a pretty clever idea by Kraft. Why?

  1. They are mareketing their brand by providing a useful service and content, not by glitz and shmultz
  2. They took something that is pretty unexeciting and hip (mac and cheese anyone?) and attached it to something which is pretty hot these days (ipods, podcasts)

Cool move. Now I need to get an iPod, I guess

Thanks to adverblog for the find

In Business

It's official, our business is real. We just put out our first bit of advertising on craigslist

We said:

Ideas2Executables: We turn your ideas into software
Reply to: Ideas2Executables@gmail.com
Date: 2005-08-24, 7:09PM EDT


Ideas2Executables is a different kind of software
company. We specialize in taking ideas that individuals 
or small businesses have and quickly and cheaply turning
them into quality programs.

Whether it’s the next big web business or just some 
application to make your job easier, Ideas2Executables 
can write the software that you envision.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

Ideas2Executables@gmail.com or http://i2x.blogspot.com.

* this is in or around DC Area

How's that for sounding official?

Going Away Flowers

Check out those pretty flowers. They aren't for or from me. They are for Elana, from her co-wokers. She had her last day at work for the summer.

It's hard to believe 3 months ago we were welcoming her for the summer, and now we are saying goodbye.

We had a fun time with her and wish her much mazel in the year to come!

--Ben

Cuddling Slugs

While mowing my lawn yesterday I came across two snuggling slugs. Pretty impressive, ugly looking animals.

I only have one story about slugs, and I may never get to tell it. So better tell it now.

When my older brother was younger (14 maybe?) he told my dad and me a story. He was all proud of himself for taking, and winning a bet - for like $5.00 my brother ate a slug. My dad's response? "Dummy, you could of at least gotten $15.00 for that."

How's that for family values?

--Ben

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Old Town at Night

We were lucky enough to have some family friends pass through DC tonight. We gave them the quick tour of the area, including the Pentagon and Old Town Alexandria.

--Ben

Yet Another Hacking Project...

Got a Match?

Yet another hardware hacking project I'd love to play with...

Midnight patching

Patching our production servers. Naturally, we do this when the world is sleeping. You are sleeping now, aren't you?

--Ben

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hardware Hacking

Two Line Mini-Terminal

One day I'm going to have enough time to work on stuff like this. Hmmm, maybe instead of retiring to play golf, I'll retire to hack?

Husband Trainer Magazine


Husband Trainer Magazine
Originally uploaded by benjisimon.
My sample magazine cover, made from here.

Beastie Boys - Make your own music

Beastie Boys - Make your own music

Here's an interesting concept. Rather than fear piracy, they are embracing the creative abilities of those on the net. To bad I'm tone deaf.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Make Your Own Magazine Cover

http://www.flagrantdisregard.com/flickr/magazine.php

Oooh, can't wait to play with this site.

--Ben

Views from Old Towne

Walked around Old Town Alexandria with the parents. Saw art, jewelry, airplanes and catfish. What else could one ask for?

--Ben

Adverblog: Do-it-yourself online marketing

Adverblog: Do-it-yourself online marketing

Two cool examples of Do It Yourself marketing. Now go and play.

Amazon.com: So You'd Like to... survive the rise of the undead

I think it's cool that Amazon allows its customers to publish how to guides. Some examples include: learn how to program or how to fish from a canoe.

This is one of the more clever guides I've come across...

Amazon.com: So You'd Like to... survive the rise of the undead

Ideas and Execution

http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/7614

An interesting article about ideas and execution.

<plug>

Maybe what this world needs is a company to help people turn their ideas into executables? (http://i2x.blogspot.com)

</plug>

--Ben

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Birthday Princess


IMG_8361
Originally uploaded by blumenth.
Here are a bunch of photos from the Princess's first birthday!

Gps + Cell Phone = Dinner

Tonight, on the ay home from NJ to DC, we got hungry. So, we used thr GPS to find a Pizza Hut. Turns out there was one 15 miles away. So, we called ahead from the road and ordered pizza so it would be ready for us when we arrived. All, in all, the plan worked well - we had good pizza and it was ready quickly.

I wonder how you could turn this into something pizza hut could offer as a service? Maybe you see signs on the road that say something like: "call us now, at xxx-yyy-zzzz, and your pizza will be ready when you arrive."

This would be convenient for drivers and a nice advertising program for the restaurant. As a bonus, drivers would pass up other restaunts as they drove to the one they ordered from because they would have already committed to eating there.

--Ben

Happy first birthday!

Went to a friend's 1st birthday today. I think the birthday girl was a bit overwhelmed by the attention. And I know she's going to kill her parents for dressing her up like a princess.

But boy was she cute!

--Ben

Friday, August 19, 2005

Fun with the parents

We spent the morning with my parents at the National Building Museum. It's basically an impressive building that was saved from destruction, and is now used to host exhibits.

The biggest claim to fame is that the great hall is used for the innaugural balls.

What I found most impressive was how the building was made out of cheap materials (millions of bricks) but made to look like it used fancy ones (marble columns, for example). Like so many things in DC, it's more facade than anything else.

--Ben

Nifty Novel - ttyl

While browsing the museum bookstore I came across a novel named "ttyl."

What makes this novel interesting is that it's written completely as an instant message transcript between the characters. The author uses all the slang you would expect, and as far as I can tell, you don't even know the names of the characters, you just know their screen names.

I give the author real credit for being creative.

Check out what amazon says: http://tinyurl.com/cef8p

--Ben

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Newest Family Member

Allow me to introduce our latest member of the family. We haven't decided on a name yet, but officially he's an HP dv4170, 15" display, 100 gig hardrive, 1 gig ram and some sort of processor.

As you can see, mom and child are doing well. Though mom won't let dad go near said child yet.

--Ben

Album of the Day

Who needs a song of the day, when you can have an entire album.

Brad Paisley, Time Well Wasted

He covers all the big issues: drinking, women and murder.

Ohr Somayach - Ask The Rabbi / Browse Topics

Ohr Somayach - Ask The Rabbi

This is a great collection of Ask the Rabbi Letters. Browsing through a few of them shows that everything is covered from "does my dog go to heaven?" to "what do jews believe about dinosaurs?"

It's also impressive how concise the answers are.

My Banker

Yesterday we opened a business bank accout (for http://i2x.blogspot.com). It was a painful proccess because we had to wait 2 hours to actually speak with someone and then an hour of filling out and signing up. Though the person we worked with at Bank of America couldn't have been nicer or tried harder.

The hilight of the adventure was when the wife needed to check something online, so she just plopped herself down in the banker's seat.

Isn't she cute as a banker? I already deposit all my money with her as it is.

--Ben

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Computer Shopping

Shira's laptop is on its last legs (hard drive is dying a noisy death), so it's time to get her a new laptop.

Visited Best Buy and Microcenter tonight. In an odd role reversal, Best Buy was helpful and attentive and Microcenter was a zoo.

The best part was checking reviews/prices online at cnet while standing in Microcenter.

The current laptop we are looking at: Toshiba 370, Intel Celeron, 512mb ram, 80gb hard drive, 15" wxga screen, 6.7lbs all for $1099.

--Ben

Song of the Day

Today I as in a country music mood...and this song officially ranks as song-of-the-day

Deana Carter - Did I Shave My Legs For This Lyrics

collision detection: 8-bit ideology

collision detection: 8-bit ideology

Some interesting thoughts on gaming. First, I like how he reminds us that games are media, and media is designed to influence us. Which means that anyone who says that a first-person shooter doesn't affect the player is just being silly.

But, I like how he then takes it a step further and suggests that maybe the way in which it affects the player isn't the way that most critics think it does.

Dude Where's My Country - thoughts

Yesterday I finished Mike Moore's "Dude, Where's My Country?" Overall, it was enjoyable and educational.

One observation that I've made about this book is who the audience is. It seems to be a book by a liberal, for liberals. He seems to be interested in educating those who more or less already agree with them so they can spread his message. So I wouldn't recommend this book as one you would give to your conservative friend to "fix" him.

Things I liked about the book: a good accounting of how the Bush team convinced the country to go to war; a nice discussion of the USA Patriot Act; a list of things he admits that you would never think you would hear a liberal say (probably worth the entire book!); inspirational ideas for grass roots efforts - both political and non-political.

Things I didn't like: a bit too much overlap with Fahrenheit 9/11; somtimes his use of humor does more damage than good; some of his theories about Bush are just too out there.

Overall score: listenability: 8/10, educational value: 9/10

Next book: Bias and one by Zell Miller.

--Ben

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

We're In Business!

$13.00, 5 forms, and one hour later we officially have a business! Wow, it's truly amazing how easy it is to setup a business.

What are we doing? Well, computer programming, of course. Visit: http://i2x.blogspot.com for the whole story.

And if you have a software idea, let me know - we can make it reality.

--Ben

Monday, August 15, 2005

Going postal

Standing in line for 20 minutes, waiting to do a 30 second transaction, and one that could and should be self service -- explains the frustration associated with this great institution of ours.

And, the guy in front of me just cut me in line! What is this, 5th grade???

Argh...I know I'm getting punished for something. But what did I do that was that bad???

--Ben

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Quote of the day

Today is Tish'a B'Av, and is a day when we remember all sorts of tragic events. It was in this spirit that my wife said: "I'm just trying to make your day as misreable as possible."

--Ben

A game of Jenga

My wife and I used to love to play Jenga together. It brings out the competitive spirit in her. We played again for the first time in years, and had a lot of fun.

She plays Jenga like most people play chess. There's total silence, and you can cut the tension with a knife. You know she is trying to win the mental game, hoping that I'll crumble and lose the real game.

Technically, she did win.

--Ben

Tish'a B'Av

Today is Tish'a B'Av, an unusual day in the Jewish calandar. Learn all about it here:

http://www.jewfaq.org/holidayd.htm

--Ben

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