Tuesday, April 25, 2006

wikiHow - The How-To Manual That Anyone Can Write or Edit

wikiHow - The How-To Manual That Anyone Can Write or Edit

I was playing the Da Vinci game, and decided to look around my Google personal home page. One of the panes that I installed was the "How To" section. The content comes from this web site.

There's a ton of cool information here. I learned how to make a bow and arrow, how to make water in the desert, how to grow cacti, and how to include Jack Dog in my wedding.

Because it's a wiki, anybody with an account can add an article or edit one.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Quest by Google

Have you been playing the Da Vinci Code Quest from Google? You get these puzzles to play each day at 1pm. Once you complete the puzzle, you're asked a question that you must answer. Most come from the DaVinci web site . Others you need google for. I solved one today that had me convert dipoles into inches using Google calculator.

If you're one of the first 10,000 players to complete this round, you go to some type of second round. Win this new round, and you win a bunch of awesome prizes, including airfare to New York, London, Paris, and Rome, and other things. It would be perfect for me and Joanne! :-)

In order to compete, you need a Google account. If you don't have one, email me and I'll send you an invitation.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pork in the Park!

This weekend Wicomico County put on the third annual Pork in the Park event. It's a national barbeque cook-off sanctioned by the KCBS. I guess that means if you win, you get to go to the show and vie for the title of national champion!

Friday evening Joanne and I served beer for the JayCees. We had fun, and got some BBQ for dinner from Three Phat Boys catering.

Saturday I went back in the AM and participated as a BBQ Judge! I got suckered into being a Table Captain, so I didn't get to rate any food. I did, however, get to taste a lot of entries. I left the tent with several take home boxes full of BBQ goodness, and shared my spoils with fellow JayCees who were on beer duty.

Random observations about being a BBQ Judge:
1. Be prepared to eat a lot of BBQ. Think of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners combined.
2. Table Captains have to keep track of paperwork and bring entries to the table. Be sure to delegate responsibilities for the lucky judges - have them get more paper towels, bottles of water, crackers, etc. Expect them to share their food with you if there isn't enough of an entry for you, too.
3. If you are entering an event, be sure to include extras above the minimum amount you must submit. Sometimes ribs stick together, which could leave a judge without anything to taste. The judges also like it when there's plenty to go around for the table captain and others in the tent. It's a karma thing.
4. Don't enter food that's covered in sauce. A little sauce is OK, if it accents the meat. Some entries were so sauced up that's all you tasted. Somebody entered sausage that tasted like it was turned into candy. It was so gross that I had to spit it into a napkin. There were few dry rub entries, so they really shined and had a leg up on the others.
5. Charcoal matters more than you think. One team was using Kingsford briquettes and lighter fluid. The briquettes aren't bad, per se - if you pre-burn them so that all of the black soot is gone you can get heat and smoky flavor. If you don't it makes the outside of the meat taste funny. Same with lighter fluid. But if you're cooking "low and slow" it's almost impossible to get rid of all the fluid, meaning that your meat will absorb a funky petroleum taste. The judgest learned quickly which entries to avoid. Many people like Cowboy brand. My personal favorites are the Competition Blend from Wicked Good Charcoal and the Big Green Egg charcoal from Royal Oak.
6. BBQ is salty. I felt like I ate a huge bag of super salty popcorn for hours after I finished judging, with pickled lips, etc.

Because of the use of numbers, we had no idea who would have the best BBQ. Turns out that this team IQ did very well, winning overall, 2 or 3 first places, and 2 second places. They made a few grand in prize money. The team sponsored by the ultimate hot sauce store Peppers were a big suprise - they placed Top 10 in just about everything and won second overall.

Despite the several inches of rain and all the lightning that we received over the weekend, I thought that the event was awesome. Being a judge was a great learning experience - on my good tries I'm right up there with the best, and at worst I'm better than the people who use lighter fluid! If I can continue to improve my consistency and learn a little more each try, I'll be a champ in little time.

Thursday night: Jar Flys at the 8x10 in Baltimore

Joanne and I took a little road trip to Balmer, Hon to go see Jar Flys. They are a band fronted by Jimi Haha of Jimi's Chicken Shack fame. These guys are more mello, with a heavy jam band influence. They still retain Jimi's sense of humor, making for an awesome show.

Some of you may be saying "I thought the 8x10 was sold and turned into the Funk Box!?!?" Well, that's right. But nobody knew where the Funk Box was, or just refused to call it anything but the 8x10, so the owners fixed their mistake. Luckily, the place still retained all of the awesome sound qualities when they upgraded the venue to call it Funk Box.

It was nice to see all of the old crew. Foxx, Joe, Straitz, Brian, Christian, and all the other friends that I haven't seen that often since making a life for myself in the 'bury.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Did your tech provider leave you hanging?

We picked up a new client today - a lawyer in Ocean Pines. This is what the router and switch looked like - definately not up to industry standards!

The picture goes to show that you get what you pay for. I ran across an old addage the other day that hit home with me. Summarized, it states "It's far worse to pay too little than to pay a bit more for your products and services." To pay for a bad job and then pay to fix it at a later date will cost more in the long run.

Today I gave a speech

The Wicomico Convention and Visitors Association asked Hunter and I to give a speech on web development and Internet marketing. We discussed the history of web commercialization, the different pieces of a web site, types, and marketing through organic search terms and pay per click programs.

Overall, I'd have to say that it was a very productive use of time. One of the attendees liked it so well that he invited us to speak to a business group in Berlin a few hours after we got back to the office! We also had a few people ask us for business cards.

Based upon the success of this event, I'm working a few angles to see if we can do the same presentation in other areas of the shore.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Insaniquarium - MSN Games - Free Online Games

I recently stumbled upon this fun game. You start with some fish in an aquarium. As you feed them, they poo (produce) coins, which give you money.

As you collect more money, you can buy things like more fish, better food, potion that makes your fish poo stars, this star catcher creatures that turn star poo into diamonds, and blasters.

Why do you need blasters? Because every once in a while, an alien enters the tank and you have to blow them up before they eat your fish or shoot them with missles.

Along the way, you'll meet friends who can help you out. In this screen shot, there's a snail and a jelly fish who collect coins. There is also a mermaid who sings, making your fish poo more stars and coins. Obviously, I set the tank up for maxmum fundage.

Put all of this crazy stuff together, and you get Insaniquarium! Try it out...it's a lot of fun.

Insaniquarium - MSN Games - Free Online Games

The Towson Jaycees Shrimp Feast!

Last night Joanne and I went to the Towson Jaycees Shrimp Feast in Baltimore. We met some of the Salisbury members there, and proceeded to have a great time!

MMmmMmMmmMmm....shrimp feast!

Here is Kathy Kirwan, our State Director, and Mary Kingston, our esteemed president.

This is the amazing wheel of prizes. I lost money here.

Here is the money wheel. I made a few dollars betting with quarters.

The Salisbury Jaycees showed everybody how to get down. Jay Pepper is the man!

Here's a pic of me and Joanne.

At the end of the night, they raffled off the remaining goodies at the wheel of prizes. My ticket was drawn, so I went to pick a prize. Joanne wouldn't let me select the 6 pack of Heineken, so I had to get a plant. Here he is...Fred the House Plant!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Super Suppers is coming to Easton

Tonight Jack and Nancy van Dijk hosted a soft opening of their new business venture. It's a "make it and take it" kinda place. You sign up for an appointment, show up, prep your meals, and then put them in your freezer. All you need to do is thaw and cook according to the handy directions.

It's kinda like a salad bar with all of the ingrediants pre-prepped. You follow the recipe dumping stuff into a zip lock bag, and in a few minutes you've got a meal completely prepped. I haven't my meals yet, so not sure how it will taste. But with names like "spicy curried fruit with braised pork chops," it's very promising. Supposedly, it's cheaper for you to buy your meals like this than go to the grocery store and throw away waste.

Best of luck, Jack and Nancy!

After this event, I went to Joanne's house. She has had this nasty stomach virus all week, and hasn't had much solid food. She was hungry for a McDonalds cheeseburger, so I got one for her on the way over. Hopefully she'll get better soon.

The Orioles are undefeated?

For the first time in 9 years, the Os are 2-0.

Don't believe me? Click on the title to read all about it on Yahoo! Sports...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Jonathan with his birthday treat!

Jonathan is turning 2 in a few days. So when Joanne and I went to my parents house over the weekend, we had a party!

We gave little J a wagon full of those big lego things. He was a bit hesitant to build with the blocks right away, but he was all about putting blocks in the wagon. By the time we had to leave, he was starting to make stacks of blocks on his own.

Off to nap town!

Joanne and i are going to see my nephews for their birthdays. We stopped in Best Buy for gifts, and Joanne needed some tech things that I couldn't get good deals on buying from Inacom.

Here i an playing guitar hero! It's a PS2 game where you get a Fender style guitar with 5 buttons on the frets. You press the fret(s) indicated on the screen and then "strum" when the screen tells you to. This makes your character play the guitar part in the song. If you are kicking butt, you can gain extra points by holding your guitar high in the air.

The publisher of the game chose some of the best guitar rock songs ever, including Boston's "More than a Feeling," Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," and more.

What Joanne bought at Best Buy:

1) Lexar Jumpdrive Sport (1 GB) - The problem with most jumpdrives that attach to your keychain is poor design. Either you have to plug your keys into the USB port, or you lose your jump drive and keep the cap (This is what happened to Joanne). That's why we got her this jump drive - it keeps the drive in a rubber holder that holds it snugly. I've had mine for about a year now, and it's the best one I've seen. You can get this from Amazon.com, too. It's not in BB stores, though - you need to go to their business web site.

2) Canon Powershot SD450 - Imagine a 5 megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom that takes great pictures and fits in your shirt pocket! I've had the SD100 for a few years now, and have loved every minute of that camera. Joanne liked it enough to get this version, which is 3 years newer and cooler! This camera is offered by one of Inacom's suppliers, but it's severly backordered. Retail is $299 - Amazon has it for $250!

While at BB, I signed up for their free business program. When you register, they give you some cool perks. I got about $50 knocked off of Joanne's stuff, a free bottle of water, and a personal lackey that doubled as a shadow. You also get $5 gift certificates for every $150 spent - 3% doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up. There's $10 coming in the mail for me! You also get "priority checkout," meaning that you can pay or return at a special register in the back. I hate lines, so that might be motivation enough.

Next time I go to BB, I'm going to try and be a big shot with my card, like when Homer had that all access pass at the Rolling Stones concert!