Friday, January 28, 2005

Foodies Delight

The wife and I are both foodies (n. a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink)). If our TV is on, it is most likely on Food Network. The Food Network site has always been a bit of a disappointment to me. Sure you can find the latest recipes from Emeril, but there has always been something lacking to me. Or perhaps, I was overly distracted by all of the attempts at ecommerce - ads and links everywhere to shopping pages on the Food Network site itself.

Things are getting better however. With the launch of Iron Chef America the Food Network has finally started to get into the whole interactive TV / Web thing. There is a game that allows you to play along with show, in real time which I found to be a real enhancement to the overall experience of watching. When you add good background information (bios on chefs and challengers, movies on food shopping for the show, etc), it looks like the marketing brains at Food Network finally are beginning to get it.

Another Food Network discovery I made this morning was Alton Brown’s web site and blog. If you are into food and if you are even the slightest bit geeky, Alton Brown is the cook (I don’t think he is a real chef) for you. Proof of the fact that he is a true geek’s cook came when Wired did a piece on him last June. I think he may be my hero... :)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

From The Too Cool Deptartment

Looks like flexible displays are one step closer to reality. This post on Gizmodo has the details. Right now the only prototype is business card sized and can only display blue - but the possibilities for this technology are pretty sweet. How about a new HDTV that you can roll up and take with you? Or a computer monitor that can be wrapped around any surface. I read about this technology a couple of years ago, I'm glad to see it finally panning out.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Moving On (up)

I haven't been posting much lately, due to the fact that I have been very busy. My life is about to change quite a bit. First of all, as of Jan 31st, I will have a new job, not in Champaign/Urbana, but in the Chicago area; which of course means that I am also moving. Too many people have gotten into trouble with their blogs and work, so I won’t ever mention who I work for - but needless to say I find it to be a big step up from where I am currently.

I can't help but notice that once I move, I will have gone full circle. Starting in 1995, I went from Chicago to Champaign in 1995. Then I moved to Minneapolis, then Odessa, and then Urbana, now, I will be moving back to where I started. It isn't a pretty circle, but I’m excited to be going back to the Windy City.

Monday, January 17, 2005

An Old Friend

About two weeks ago I started to feel the need to game. I knew that I could shell out $50 for Halflife 2, and be extremely happy, however, I also knew that HL2 would distract me far too much from the things in my life that needed to get done. So I decided to go for a something else, something that I had lying around.

Enter Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. When it came out, I played it and its two expansions for over six months; and now I'm playing it again. Morrowind is by far the best RPG that I have ever played. Even though I know the whole plot, and where to find half of the items, I am still enjoying it as if I had never played before. I can't believe how enjoyable this game is - since reinstalling it, I've become completely hooked - again.

Of course, I know I will really get sucked up, when the next chapter, Oblivion comes out at the end of the year.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

More LEGO Goodness

Thanks to a Google Ad, which took me to a consulting firm agency that offers LEGO creations; I ended up finding a really cool site of LEGO creations. The guys stuff that really impressed me was Sean Kenney, check out his Philadelphia's Ben Franklin Bridge built in just two hours!

LEGO Computer Case

How sweet is this. I normally am not down for custom cases, but come on, a case made of LEGO's it just too cool - I guess it really goes to prove the LEGO effect that I mentioned before....

Thursday, January 06, 2005

CF and Double-O

CF blogs are a buzz about OO and CF lately:
(Matt Woodward's Blog, Ben Forta's Blog, Mossy Blog, An Architect's View, etc.)

And I think its great! I have often complained that ColdFusion’s biggest asset, as a language, was also its biggest weakness. ColdFusion can be picked up, with very little pain and suffering, by anyone who knows HTML. And that makes it great - unfortunately this easy of use can lead to some seriously bad coding! I have met several CF developers over the last couple of years who never learned any other language, and never took the time to really learn CF, because they didn’t have to. This leads to programmers who don’t know a thing about best practices, proper ways to structure code for easy of maintenance, and worst of all, code with a complete lack of structure.

If you are coming from HTML to CF, normally you can use a page to page, code as you go style. This works and is even a decent strategy for small applications that have a linear workflow. However, once a developer has moved on to more complex applications (eCommerce store, intranet sites, etc) this lack of structure will kill you slowly over time. To me, this is where OO can really make a difference for CF developers. OO forces you to think ahead, to (dare I say it?) plan out your application, before you code! It also makes you learn about frameworks, objects, inheritance, and reusable code. If new CF developers learned OO, I believe it would lead to better CF applications all around. Which is not to say that I think all CF applications need to be OO; in fact, I would dare say that many CF applications would gain little or nothing from the overhead that true OO brings. But learning OO and starting to think in the structured way that is OO can increase any CF developers work.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

World's Tallest Bridge

Via Boing Boing this morning, a satellite image & pictures of the world's tallest bridge in France. 890 feet above the ground and is 1.6 miles long! And to top it all off, it looks cool! ;)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The LEGO Effect

Last night, while trying to determine how long I have been using Flash, I came across this article on Macromedias web site. It really made me smile to read it. Jonathan Gay's story, about his experiences that lead to the development of FutureSplash is very interesting, but the part that made me smile most was the beginning – and his mention of LEGO bricks.

I too, grew up with LEGO's, and I have always associated them with bringing out my creative, technical, and problem solving skills. When my brother was old enough, I handed down my LEGO's to him. Now he is an adult and has developed similar abilities. My wife’s little brother plays with a lot of LEGO's and he too is developing the same skill set.

Now I'm preparing to bring my own children into the world, and I'm counting down the days until my brother and I can hand down our collection to them. With any luck, The LEGO effect will continue.

Spirit Aniversary

Yesterday, the Mars rover Spirit marked its 1 year anniversary on the planet. NASA receives lot flak for the way it does things and the very ugly mistakes that have happened; however it does not get enough credit for the things that go right. Spirit and its sister rover Opportunity were only designed to last 90 days on the surface and yet, thanks to massive over engineering by NASA, the two are still going, still providing new data about our mysterious red neighbor. Congrats to the rover team!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Let us all hope that 2005 brings peace and prosperity to the world.

World's Tallest Building

As of yesterday, the world officially has a new tallest building. Known only as Taipei 101, it is a beautiful building that the government of Taiwan hopes will bring it international attention.

Growing up in Chicago, I know a thing or two about tall buildings, after all Chicago held the title of world’s tallest building, with the Sears Tower, for most of my life. And this one is truly taller than the Sears Tower, unlike the Petronas Towers which opened in 1998, and claimed to be taller than the Sears Tower. This really bothered me - not just as a matter of pride, but because it was only taller in a technical sense. It was given the title; because its spire, which is enclosed, raises the height of the building to a total height of 452 m (the roof line is closer to 405 m). The Sears Tower is 442 m tall, but the antennas are not allowed to be included in the height (which would make the Sears tower the tallest since at roughly 535 m tall). Taipei 101 is 448 m tall, at the roof line, and 508 m at the spire, making it truly the tallest building.

There are projects around the world that would, if completed, take the title away from Taipei 101, but for the moment Taipei 101 gets the honor.