Friday, November 30, 2007


WosemiSome friends of mine have beta launched Wosemi. The plan sounds a bit like Myspace but the users get a slice of the revenue (Adsense and affiliate links I suppose). I think the site is built on a DotNetNuke framework. It's definitely in beta, but hey, that's further than most of my ideas get. I particularly like the graphic design of the little Mii-like Wosemians, especially the Santa version. Heck, I just like the word Wosemian.

Papercraft Spacecraft

These are awesome! Some incredibly detailed papercraft models of the space shuttles, the international space station, and other spacecraft. They're probably too detailed for me to build. I could start building one, but by now I know I wouldn't finish it.

The Evel Knievel You Didn't Know

Evel Knievel passed away today. I met him once, briefly, over 15 years ago. Sitting there a, um, adult club, wearing sunglasses in the dark, spending his remaining money and fame chasing the wrong things. Just like I was. I assumed that was how his life continued, up until he passed away or at least until his liver transplant. I don't know why I figured he wouldn't have changed in the past 15 years. I sure did.

What I didn't know until 10 minutes ago was that earlier this year, Robert "Evel" Knievel gave his life to Christ. You can see part of his Palm Sunday testimony at The Crystal Cathedral here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Knoppix Rescues Windows Again

Knoppix saved another Windows box for me. This weekend I trashed my laptop a little. I tried installing Ubuntu 7.10 to an old USB hard drive and wasn't paying attention to how the install skipped over the boot loader options. The next thing I know, Ubuntu's wrecked the master boot record (MBR) on my laptop's internal drive. Booting up gives me a painful-looking:
GRUB Loading stage1.5.

GRUB loading, please wait...
Error 2
My first attempt was to boot up an XP install CD and try to run FIXMBR. But since it's my company's work laptop, I don't know the local Administrator account's password so I can't even get into the recovery console at all. I was thinking of pulling together all the pieces to download a DOS or Windows 98 floppy image and boot from that to run FDISK /MBR, which supposedly will still work to boot Windows XP.

Then I had my first useful idea in all of this. Knoppix. I popped in an old Knoppix DVD and booted it up. I struggled for a bit with trying to find an XP MBR to dd onto my laptop hard drive, thinking "surely there's an archive of MBRs out there on the net". Then I stumbled across my final answer, ms-sys. Ms-sys can write any of the Microsoft MBR's to a hard drive. I ran "ms-sys -m /dev/sda" and rebooted. Windows XP came up fine.

I've since gone back and tried to make Ubuntu boot from that portable USB drive, but I can't get a machine to even get to the boot loader no matter how I fiddle with the partition table. Maybe I need to try a different drive. I'd love to have a full-blown Ubuntu install on a bootable USB drive, especially since Wifi support finally works so well.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Rob Witte pointed out to me. It's an interesting little product apparently inspired by the 4 Hour Work Week book. A 30 minute video of a crackling fireplace, with or without background music, for $10 or under. Good for portable video players include iPods or fire it up on your computer at home or in the office for a little Christmas feel.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Counting the Ways to Lose NaNoWriMo

The towel, it is thrown. I've all but officially given up on NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, this year. Stalled at 6112 words. Haven't written in 2 weeks. I had fun writing about 2000 of those, but it's not a novel. I started badly, with grand ideas that would take way more than 50,000 words. Chopping back the scope down to what would fit in 50,000 words left me with something that just wasn't that much fun to write after a couple thousand words. I rehashed some ideas and even some short stories I wrote 15+ years ago, which was just a bad idea.

So if I had to make a list of ways to lose NaNoWriMo:
  1. Reuse characters and plots from previously unfinished or failed writing efforts.
  2. Try to pack something the size of Lord of the Rings (just under 500,000 words) into 50,000 words. In a month.
  3. Write something you don't know. It's hard to add the little details when you're writing about a completely foreign environment, whether it's a city that you've never been to, a place that doesn't even exist, a job that you've never done, or a culture that you made up. Use what you know and twist it to fit.
  4. Get hung up on details. I constantly had issues like coming up with names for places and secondary characters and keeping them consistent. Once I hit on just using "blah blah" or blatantly stealing existing names (just for the draft), it stopped slowing me down.
  5. Stay in your usual environment. I think I wrote maybe 1000 words sitting at my home desktop. I wrote most of my words sitting somewhere busy with headphones in.
  6. Write while you're online. Just not possible for me. I wrote 90% of my words on an old beat up laptop with no Wifi.
I dunno now. Just making that list and running out of items makes me think maybe I need to suck it up and get back to it. I only need what, 44,000 words in the next 8 days? I think at my peak I figured I was able to knock out 1000 words in a really good hour, but 600 was a more normal pace.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

God Speed

I just saw a the Godspeed Flight Demonstration Team drop in on the American Chopper show. They coincidentally happened to be there as they were building a helicopter bike, or else they probably wouldn't have even made it on the air. The Orange County Choppers crew played around with their mini RC helicopters for a while while the Godspeed guys talked a bit about what they do.

These guys put on a R/C plane and helicopter flight show for schools and special events. Cool and educational. But they also use it as an opportunity to inspire and evangelize. Too bad they're only in Oklahoma. Maybe they need to build up a franchise business.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Goodbye Disney!

Today's the day. Our Disney passes expired. I'm not even sure how many days we went in the past year, but it must be somewhere near 25. I'm sure I'll miss it, but I'm also looking forward to vacations, weekends, and just day trips to other places. Disney does a great job at almost everything they do and I know I'll miss their white-washed family-friendly perfectionism.

I have a billion photos from Disney. Hopefully by this time next year we'll have just as many photos from the beach, the smokies, fairs, the keys, etc.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The New Outsourcing: Webkinz Dollar Farming Retirees

The other night my daughter came home from my in-laws with a weird piece of news. She gave her Webkinz ID and password to my mother-in-law. She's going to get on and play Webkinz games for my daughter and her cousin when they're at school or asleep because she likes playing the games but doesn't care about the Webkinz, stuffed or virtual.

Of course, I see a business opportunity here. Imagine an out-sourcing company that just grinds Webkinz games for Webkinz dollars. You wouldn't even have to go to China like the World of Warcraft gold farmers. You could just enlist retirees, stay-at-home moms, bored office workers, etc. The hard part (like I detailed earlier) is getting any parent to spend money on Webkinz unless it's rewarded with an actual physical stuffed animal.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Adventure Night

This year, Halloween fell on a Wednesday. For the first time since I've been involved in children's ministry here (6 years now) we hosted a Halloween alternative, Adventure Night. We sort of borrowed from the Epcot World Showcase and created five rooms, one per continent. Each room had crafts, games, activities, snacks, gifts, and candy. Snowball fights (tissue paper), snow cones, Chinese hats, crowns, rain sticks, boomerangs, fortune cookies, and much more. The only bad news about the event is that we only had 27 or so kids. It was a start though and maybe something to build on for next year. Even if we don't offer a Halloween alternative again, the "around the world" theme came together well and I'm sure we'll pull it out again for a special event.