Wednesday, December 22, 2004

One batch down

Last night I brewed my first batch of beer. I started brewing about 8PM and finished off at 2AM. I only had a few minor mishaps like a small boil over, doing the mash at too high of a temperature, and forgetting to start the yeast and hence having to rush it. That said, I've got a pretty big IPA going and it's starting to ferment slowly.

Original gravity: 1.080
Bittering hops: 1oz Chinook, 1oz Centennial
Finishing hops: 1os Willamette

I'm planning on dry hopping with Columbus.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


What is the point of software licensing? It's supposed to protect the rights of the holders of that intellectual property.

We can have a debate about what should constitute intellectual property and whether those rights should be protected or not, but I think it's fair that someone that works hard to produce a product is compensated for that product. I don't want to have that debate now.

Vendors of software need this extra form of protection because it's too easy to reproduce their work at massive scale (make an ISO copy of a CD and put it on a website). Serial numbers, license servers, etc. put up a barrier that make it more difficult to reproduce their work without permission.

But, what protection do consumers of intellectual property have? Specifically, serial numbers, etc. are designed to keep unauthorized users OUT, but when an authorized user, one who has bought a legitimate copy of the software, loses a serial number they are kept out as well. In those cases, who/what protects the right of the consumer to use the software which they legitimately own?

Here's a concrete example. I bought a copy of Virtual PC. I saved all of the paperwork that I thought was necessary. I had a shrink-wrapped manual with Certificate of Authenticity from the copy of XP that shipped with Virtual PC. However, it turns out that I didn't save the serial number for the Virtual PC software itself. The Virtual PC installer won't let you install without that number.

I tried to relocate Connectix (I bought directly from the vendor). However, they've been bought by Microsoft. So I called Microsoft support directly (after spending 15 minutes on their website trying to find phone number!) I got some guy whose name I couldn't pronounce and he started asking me questions. Often there were uncomfortable silences and then he'd come back and say something like "Use the serial number on the CD" Duh! I guess he must deal with incompetent people often. Eventually, after a long pause he came back and said "You know Virtual PC 6.1 is no longer supported." Angrily I asked him what to do and he said I'd need to talk to their sales department who he transfered me to. I promptly got an answering machine. Grr...

The story ends with a Google search "Virtual PC 6" serial number. I got my answer in "0.10 seconds" on the second link, though it did make me feel a bit like a criminal. However I KNOW that I own a legitimate license, and I figure if a company is unwilling to support a product they have little claim to enforce it's licenses. In fact they should be required to release serial numbers for products they no longer support. It might create an incentive for them to produce a better product in newer versions.

Let me end with a radical proposal:
License the user and not the software.

I know there are all sorts of ways in which this is a horribly bad idea, but indulge me for a second. I'm a responsible software user. I make my living from software. I'm also able to afford software. Consequently, I regularly pay for software from cheap stuff like CodeTek Virtual Desktop to expensive stuff like Photoshop I have no intention or desire to be a software pirate. License me. When I say "I bought a license to that piece of software," trust me (because I'm licensed) and let me in. Make me do periodic audits, but don't make me remember to save a little piece of paper with a number on it. We could take this idea even further. Make the "user licensing" a centralized system that user's must register with. The centralized system has most known software available for download. It tracks what I've downloaded and makes auditing easier. Actually, this is starting to sound like software subscriptions...

Anyhow, the point is I'm tired of being treated like a criminal! Ironically my treatment forced me to look like one. Maybe I should have another post about whether the criminal justice system actually rehabilitates people or makes them into more hardened criminals...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

I was wrong...

I admit it. I judged Mark's Bikes too early. I had previously bought stuff from them for a trip and their people are amazingly friend, but when I took my bike in last for a tuneup and replacement of a broken shifter they seemed a bit incompetent. It took almost a month, and on a couple of occasions I called in to check up and they either didn't know what was up or they had ordered the wrong part, etc.

However, I went on a ride for the first time in 3 months and the first time since their repair job over the weekend. The weather was crisp December weather; sunny, calm, and around 40 degrees. It felt really good to get out (though it is AMAZING how quick you can lose form... I'd shed about 4 mph off my normal average for this route). However, what felt most amazing was the bike! The shifters (which I'd had them work on) have NEVER felt better. They shift so smoothly, and almost can't be heard. I don't think they worked this well when I first bought the bike. Brakes are also perfect (they replaced a bent front brake). It was truly a pleasure to ride.

So, while Mark's Bikes had some hiccups administratively. They're still great folks and whatever they did mechanically was a dream.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

All the cool kids do social software

I just got the following e-mail from Netflix:

Dear Andrew,

We hope you've been enjoying the changes we've made to the website
over the past few months. Many of these new features have come as a
result of your suggestions. We always like to get your feedback on
how we can continue to improve the service.

You've been selected to participate in a special preview of our
Friends feature that will give you a new way to discover great
movies. You'll be able to check out what your Friends think of a
movie, exchange movie suggestions with your Friends, and leave
your two cents worth on a movie for your Friends to read.

To get started, come check out the new Friends tab on the website.
Once you've created your Friends list, you can see what your Friends
are watching and give and receive movie suggestions. Please click
the link below to learn more about this feature:

-Your Friends at Netflix

I'm not sure I really care all that much. Netflix isn't so much a destination as it is a good service. I hear about and discover movies I want to see in other places and I drop them in my queue. All I care about on Netflix is their search and queue maintenance features. It'd be really nice to have some sort of telephony feature like so that I could add items to my queue just by calling a number and saying the name of the item... That or a text message interface.

UPS Tracking

UPS Tracking

Originally uploaded by aharbick.

I find it really amazing that you can ship something "3-Day Select" and indeed i does arrive three days later. Furthermore that package would make six stops across the country; all in sensible locations. If you had to start UPS from the ground up, how would you do it so that you ended as organized or more so than UPS is today? It's impressive, the amount of logistics, technology, infrastructure, and people that they've put into service for the explicit purpose of delivering my package. Oh and, they manage to do all of that for profit on less than $150. I'm sure there is a lesson here somewhere... Probably one of the Built to Last lessons.

Monday, December 6, 2004

School lunch (AKA how things never change)

If you don't have school-aged children you may not understand this until then. I had lunch with Aiden at his school on Friday. There were three things that really stuck out at me. First, lunch is really cheap. I had nachos, grapes, a baked potato and chocolate milk for a whopping $2.25. I can't tell if that means that I should be worried about the quality of what I ate (tasted fine) or government spending to subsidize lunches. Second, milk cartons haven't changed. They're still as hard to open as they ever were. Finally, the lunch ladies are the same. What is it about blue-hairs that draws them to work a register for children, make sure everyone dumps their milk into the slop bucket, cleans up endless spills, and is there to assist in opening the particulary incorrigible milk carton?

Even still, there's little in this world that feels as good as eating with your son who beams over the fact that daddy came to have lunch with him. How long until he doesn't want to hold my hand anymore? Hopefully never.

Whatever happened to snigglets?

Remember those books from the 80's with definitions for madeup words for every day things, like when vacuuming the act of picking something off the floor and dropping it back down so the cleaner can get it (don't remember the snigglet)?

I got thinking about them because I'm out in Seattle and I just had an identical experience to Ben's. Odd really. It needs a snigglet. Combining geekness and bodily function I suggest "dumplocked" as in "I had to let a load off my mind, but I got dumplocked"

Monday, November 15, 2004

Bad web design

Bad web design

Originally uploaded by aharbick.

I honestly can't believe that companies as large as United still build websites this bad.

Go to their site and there's the standard login box that wants to know your Mileage Plus number and password. There is also the standard "Forgot your password" link. If you click on that link it takes you to a page that requests your Mileage Plus number and has a "Continue" button. When you click continue you end up on this page.

Wow... I'm supposed to write a letter and attach a stamp (I don't even recall what those are any more) and send it to United "Attn: Web Password Request"!

My only hope is that my account had decayed enough that they were unable to do an automatic password request so they put up these decidedly manual ones.

Is it just me?

Or do Flickr image posts to your blog not render under Firefox? All I see is a little dot marking the image when I view my blog in Firefox, but Safari or IE seem fine.

Friday, November 12, 2004

More props for CodeTek

So CodeTek Virtual Desktop isn't perfect. There's a bug somewhere (in CTVD or I suppose it could be a Firefox bug) that causes Firefox to do funny stuff. I sent feedback to CodeTek and got this e-mail back.

    Hi Andy,

Since Mozilla's team did not resolve the issue with the release of 1.0, we
will have to now see how we can fix the problems without 'breaking'

We will be working on this to get it fixed and an update released.

In the meantime, the workarounds suggested by users are:

"When starting Firefox, if only "Firefox" appears in the menu bar (and not
File, Edit, etc.), changing desktops and changing back seems to fix this

Some report that after hiding Firefox (cmd-H) and unhiding, the Firefox
window is blank. Clicking on buttons (back, reload, etc.) or highlighting
text on the web page makes the areas clicked or highlighted appear.

And, some report that the Firefox menu is that appears after the first
start-up (ie, all other items were missing). Alt-tab to another app on
another desktop brought back functionality. ("tab-in - tab-out did bring
menus etc back in Firefox. Bit of a nuisance though.")

I hope these notes help.

Best regards, Bill

Bill Goldstein
President & CEO
CodeTek Studios, Inc

How often do you get an e-mail from the CEO of a problem dealing with support problems. Granted Bill probably IS the company, but it feels good nonetheless.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Nokia 3650...

I don't have one of these but you can do some pretty cool stuff with it, among the coolest:

Tuesday, November 9, 2004


Who'd have thought the the US Postal Service would go postal over such cool band and then end up getting them to promote snail mail. I guess it's easy to forget that the US Postal Service is an independent for profit company.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Everything new is old again...

There's an interesting post over at kuro5hin that makes a sensible argument that web-based applications are the legacy apps of the future. It's easy to fool ourself into thinking that "oh no, we're building stuff that's portable and language independent" but reality is that we're deluded to think that some large chunk of what we're building now isn't going to be legacy.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Break the Curse

Break the Curse

Originally uploaded by aharbick.

Me, Mark, and Mark's Dad wishfully hoping that the sign were actually true. Too bad!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Andy and Mark having a blast!

What can I say? Wrigley field is about as close to perfect as you can find on Earth ;)

Sammy Sosa on deck...

Sammy Sosa on deck...

Originally uploaded by aharbick.

It'd sure be nice if Flickr offered a few different blog entry templates... Then I wouldn't have to be so stinkin' clever


Mark Prior warming up.

Originally uploaded by aharbick.

While I had to suffer the pain of a 12th inning loss and ultimately a prototypical Sept.-Oct. crumble so typical of my cubbies, you can't ask for a better game. Mark Prior pitched 9 innings gave up one run and struck out 16 batters! Sammy Sosa crushed a home run onto Waveland Ave. The weather was awesome. We had great seats... There's always next year right?

Ahhh Chicago...


Originally uploaded by aharbick.

This entry was posted from Turns out I'm not such a bad photographer.

This is a shot off of "Navy Pier" in Chicago. I wanted to capture the bi-plane and the flags. Didn't turn out so bad. Let me know what you think.

John Denver PBS show..

My wife had flipped on this PBS Special created by John Denver shortly before he died. It's an almost auto/biographical piece, and is sufficiently interesting to hold anyone's attention.

The point of this post though was an observation that he made in the film. Basically he said something to the effect: "it's not surprising that wilderness is shrinking. Look at our lives, they're increasingly less wild" I'll leave you to fill in the blank ______________________ Just thought it was an interesting observation.

Sorry about the comment SPAM..

I just noticed the increasing volume of SPAMs to the comments on my blog... I've cleaned that up. Thanks to the excellent information on

Saturday, September 25, 2004

I had a product idea this morning... Not sure if you could make money off it, but I was amused.

Start an e-mail alias company (like except rather than just forwarding mail in the typical digital way, it forwards the mail through snail-mail. You pay a subscription fee and then whenever you send a mail to an address like "" the mail is printed, folded, stuffed in an envelope, and mailed along to your grandma. Obviously, that's labor intensive, and you'd have SPAM issues (these are probably preventable with a whitelist since it's only going to have a few allowable senders), but the fact of the matter is that I'd write to family members more often if I could do it through e-mail and some of my elderly family members are just not going to use a computer. I barely know what a stamp is anymore with online banking and what not.

I guess the main problem with this idea is that it's going to expire as eventually everyone will be online.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Oh yes! Joy is mine!

First a little thought about a great company. CodeTek rocks! I wanted to upgrade to the latest version of Virtual Desktop but I had lost my registration key. The app reports that it's registered it just doesn't tell you the key. Anyhow, I called the number on their site and on the first ring I had a real live human! 30 seconds later I had my old registration key. Two minutes later after completing the upgrade pipeline I got an e-mail with the new registration key for "free." Apparently, I was entitled to an upgrade.

Now let me rave about the CTVD product itself. It's just awesome! Fine grained control of hotkeys etc. You can lay out the desktops however you want. You can get control over how it looks (how big/small, how opaque/transparent). You can make certain apps always popup on a specific virtual desktop. But the real kicker is "Focus follows mouse!" Sweet goodness it is! Finally, I can jump between apps by just dragging overtop of the window (no pesky clicking on that tiny little strip of exposed real estate). Bonus... The focus follows mouse works for X11 apps too. Well done, and it's cheap (~$40 IIRC).

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


The good folks over at the Robot Co-op are doing interesting things and I expect success from them. However, I think they're going to succeed not just because they've got a cool idea and smart people, but because they've got a great way to work. Listen to Josh give a pitch about the company and he'll get to a "patterns" slide that talks about how they're going to go about tackling their problem. Listen closely throughout the presentation and you'll hear things like:

  • Work with people that you like
  • Work on problems that you love
  • The etymology of the word "amateur" which is tied to the latin root for love (in some way... I didn't pay that close attention ;)
  • Figure out how to build something that you'll want to work on if it succeeds.

I think the theme that ties this all together is love; love the people you work with (phileo) and love what you do.

I think that this "pattern" is so important that I'd bet that a team of amateurs that loves each other and their project will do a better job than a team of experts that love neither each other nor the work they're doing (modern culture loves these stories; see Miracle, I Am Sam, and Braveheart for a few examples).

One of the things that got me thinking about this was some of the biblical references about love that pop to mind specifically I Peter 4:8; "love covers over a multitude of sins." Clearly the context of that scripture is different than this post, but it got me wondering about this "pattern" Could it be that the best way to acheive "success" in life (both spiritual, and earthly) is love?

Adventures in Spelling

What do you get when you cross a label maker and male children learning how to spell? Answer: funny stuff! It's not clear if it was motivated by anger or just the mischeviousness of boys, but Shiree found a label stuck to our door this morning.


Seeing how it was male children (who have an insatiable desire to talk about bodily functions) that were likely responding to discipline, there is a HIGH probability that they intended a much less holy moniker. ;)

All we could do was laugh.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

DRM and iTunes

Dupped! iTunes, and the "Music Store" got a lot of stuff right. Hear a great song? Do a quick search, and (assuming you have an Apple account) you can buy the song in seconds and be listening to it. Just about as cool as Napster though not "free", but there's a catch and a big one at that.

You can only download the song once, and when copied around it has to be "authorized" to play. So if you buy and download the song on one machine and then want to play it on another machine you've got to copy the original from the one machine to the other. If you lose a disk and there's no backup, you have to buy everything again. It's treated very much like a physical product even though it's so ephemeral (bits on a disk). This sucks why shouldn't I be able to download it again. They're not going to prevent me from doing the copies myself (I can authorize multiple machines to play the track) would it be that hard to offer that as a service to me? I don't get it. Seems like an opportunity to me. I feel like I would be more inclined to buy more of these $.99 tracks if I could easily access them from all of the machines I work on.


I love "Seattle music" in Seattle in the Fallinter (it's all the same... dark early, grey, cool, drizzly from Sept - May)... I've been stuck on Pedro the Lion (Achilles Heel) all day. The sort of dark, heavy music is comforting. Makes you want to curl up with a cup of coffee in a papasan and your ipod all day.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I'm sorry mom

One of the things that I remember from being a kid was how my mom used to complain that I didn't "put the seat down" or how I needed to "put the seat up" because I peed on it.... I always sorta ignored it thinking "how hard is it to put the seat down" or "gross... I don't pee on the seat"

If I was anything like my sons (2 out of diapers 1 still in them), then I owe Mom an apology. They've got worse aim than a drunken sailor. Actually, sometimes I wonder if they intentionally miss the toilet. Yick.

Please hang up and try again.

Why is it that when you fail to dial the '1' when dialing a long distance number it's smart enough to detect that but not smart enough to automatically dial it for you? Maybe they want you to be in control of whether you make a long distance call.... Then again, the phone company should know whether you've called that number in the past and hence know that you know "what you're getting into" and then they could auto-dial it for you.

Even dumber is the message "you do not need to dial a '1' when dialing this number. please hang up and try again." Really?!?!? Then why on Earth didn't you just complete the call and ignore the fact that I dialed the '1'?

Monday, August 16, 2004

Sherpa Dad

Travelling with kids is an interesting experience, but I think the most noteworthy part is the amount of stuff that one is able to carry in one trip. See, there are two truths about travelling with kids:

1. You carry more stuff. Excluding the toys, car seats, etc. You still have
to carry essentials for them like clothes, diapers, etc.
2. The less trips you make when porting stuff from one place to another
the better.

So, given you these two fundamental truths the humble, God fearing father transforms into a mighty sherpa wending his way through crowds and parking lots loaded with more stuff than the lesser mortals surrounding him.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Bridge to engine room, we need more power!

We're in Seattle for the next two weeks. I borrowed a bike from my friend Steve. It's an old skool Tomassini with friction shifters, but it's beautiful and it rides SO nicely. However, Steve rides with lots of power (man he's a strong rider!) so he's got it set up with a 53/42 chain ring and a pretty big cassette too (though I don't remember the specs.) My bike is has a 30/42/52 triple chain ring setup with a smallest gear at 30/27. I'm not used to having to ride such a big gear up hills and boy does it hurt! You go pretty fast, but you're up out of the saddle grinding away with all your power. My legs are aching right now.

On Grief

Riley (our middle son) had his first real experience with grief yesterday. Actually, in a way we all did. He lost his blue blanket. We had walked over to Bellevue Square mall to have dinner at Red Robin. After dinner we decided our walking was adequate prepayment for some cheesecake. Moments later as we started to leave the play area (where the kids had taken refuge) to walk home we realized we didn't have blanket. Riley was distressed, but still clearly hopeful that we would find it as we re-traced our steps. However, we had no such joy. Red Robin didn't have it, neither did the Cheesecake Factory, and we didn't see it anywhere in our walking path. So, stunned, and with Riley pleading to go get another blanket at Babies 'R Us we left for the long walk home.

It was an odd sensation, but I realized that was was grieving with Riley. I went through many of the stages of grieving denial (nah! Red Robin MUST have the blanket), anger (why did you have to bring your blanket), depression (I was kinda paralyzed by the whole thing... It was hard to start walking back home). It made it more accute that this was my son! Watching Riley go through the same thing and ultimately come to acceptance (we had a backup blanket that he had rejected a long time ago) was hard. He took the new blanket and while it didn't feel, or smell the same it had to do, and he moved on. It was hard to watch.

Fortunately, there's a happy ending.... Moments after Riley had accepted the reality that his old blanket was gone and he had to start loving his new one we found the old one. Brody had "stolen" it and Shiree found it tucked away in the sling with Brody. What a relief!

Monday, August 2, 2004

Product incompetence

Watch Nightline's special (full version for purchase here) on Ideo, the innovative product design firm, and you will never look at another product the same; in particular the ones that suck. You will start to ask yourself questions like "Did anyone even use this product before shipping it?" or "Do these people understand what I need?"

I just went to the loo in my office of all places and had two of these experiences. First, the toilet paper. Actually this was an experience within an experience. The uber-experience revolves around the fact that the dispensers in this facility store two rolls of toilet paper but require "manual intervention" to advance the second roll (i.e. a janitor must unlock the box and drop the next roll down). Luckily if you're careful, you can still advance the toilet paper from the "hidden" roll by sticking your hand up inside the contraption and pulling at the dangling sheets VERY carefully. The lesser-experience of the toilet paper is "Why is the paper so stinkin' brittle?!?" I don't need cushy plush paper, but I would like to tug at the roll and have the option of getting more than one sheet at a time. Second, the faucets on the sinks. Everywhere these days had automatic this and that. I've even see automatic paper towel despencers (walk up an out comes two sheets). However, the automatic faucets are by far the most disappointing. You stand there looking like an idiot with your hands cupped under the faucet waving them back and forth with nothing coming out.

Who designs these things! I sure hope that these people have unresponsive faucets, pathetic toilet paper, and stupid toilet paper roll dispensers in every bathroom they visit. Maybe they'll learn to eat their own dog food before pushing it on me.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Choppin' wood

I took my boys up to my father-in-law's Christmas tree farm up in Whitney Point, NY this weekend. Among other things, my brother-in-law and I decided to chop a log in half using an axe. It was probably 12" diameter hardwood (I think Walnut). We spent probably 30 minutes wailing away on that thing. Wow. What a work out!

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Veggie roadkill

We moved to Virginia last summer. In the craziness of our move, cycling, probably my favorite hobby now and almost my only form of serious exercise, took a back seat. I got out on a few rides, but probably less than 200 miles in the first 6 months in Virginia (granted we have real winters compared to Seattle and cycling is only for the insane from pretty much Nov. to Mar.).

Upon returning to a more regular cycling routine once the weather got nice, I learned that there are three new hazzards in Virginia.

  • Rednecks

  • Rolling hills

  • Road kill

I've been honked at aggressively with the intent of "scaring me", blasted intentionally with tail pipe smoke as I approached a red light, and "buzzed" (as in "Goose, it's time to buzz the tower.") on several occasions. Always by men in big trucks <insert stereotype here>.

As to the hills... Seattle had it's share of hills, but somehow they're easier to stomach when they're long and big, and usually followed by significant downhills or flats. Somehow this area of Virginia has TONS of rolling hills and they're killer. They never end, it's hard to get a rhythm, and they're steep enough that you often need to get out of the saddle (there's one I regularly do that's about 11% the rest run 4-8%).

Finally. Road kill... (takes a while to get to the point ;) Being a more rural area there is actually wildlife living around the people. In Seattle, I don't remember seeing much more than crows and squirrels regularly within the city. However, there are lots of animals around here, and animals and roads don't mix. I've seen dead snapping turtles, beavers, deer, opposums, ground hogs, and birds. But to be fair to our vegetarian bretheren.... Today I saw a dead cucumber. Just lying there in the middle of the road. Lifeless. Waiting to cause a wreck for some poor guy like me.

Speaking of wrecks... Always check your brakes. I had a wreck on a 30-mile ride yesterday with my friend Mark Veerman around the 18th mile. I came down a hill and started entering a corner around 30 mph. I didn't give myself enough time and my brakes weren't helping. I opted for a ditch instead of road rash. Unfortunately, being a corner, there was also a stop-sign. I guess (I say guess because you don't think at moments like this so it can't be so intentional as it sounds) I decided to try to pop off the back of the bike because next thing I know, I slam into the sign, and the back of the seat smashes into my gut and get's bent in half:

(for those not "in the know" that seat is more or less supposed to be flat not bent at 20 degrees). The amazing part is that I didn't suffer anything worse than a sore abdomen (no bruising, just a couple small cuts... I was thinking I could've ruptured my bladder or something) and a tiny cut on my finger. The worst damage to the bike was the seat and a minor pinch in the shifting cable. Anyhow, I say check your brakes because mine needed some serious tightening, and probably would've prevented my crash

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Who'd a thunk it...

A stage race for serious cyclists in Harrisonburg. Too bad I didn't discover this until yesterday. Maybe I'll be fit enough next year. Hah.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I am a Graphic Designer!

Pardon me, but I'm having a proud moment. Just bought photoshop and put a few hours into playing around with it to generate that. Pretty neat huh?

Naughty words

In the Christian communities that I've been in there are always people struggling to control their tongue (Christian speak for not saying bad words). Scripture teaches us to keep your tongue from evil, that the tongue can corrupt the whole person and a whole lot of other things about the tongue's ability to reveal who you really are in your heart (note how the heart an tongue are tied together). I can't speak for you, but this is TRUTH to me. I only ever cuss when I'm angry, proud, or being a people pleaser (which thankfully for the grace of God isn't often anymore!).

So that's all interesting, here's an even more interesting thought. Take a word like the "F" word. I'm betting that you could go back to Jesus' day and walk up to a devout follower of Christ and say "F***!" and they wouldn't even flinch. They might look at you funny, because they wouldn't know your language so you might as well be saying "bacon!" The point is that I think we can sometimes reduce scriptures teaching about the tongue to a "blacklist" of words. But really, there isn't anything in scripture that teaches about which words are unacceptable to say. Scripture teaches about the connection between the heart and the tongue and we need to focus on that. If you're running around filled with anger in your heart against your fellow man shouting "bacon!" at him then you too have a tongue problem.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Spare change...

I don't like change. I give it away as fast as I can actually; tip jars, beggars, charity cups, my kids. I've even thrown away pennies because it was a nuisance to hold onto. I was thinking about this and figured "hey if it were convenient, giving away change would be a perfect way to regularly give to charitable organizations."

Because I've worked in internet related projects for almost 10 years, I think in domains. The idea started off as However that was taken. So after some brainstorming, I settled on:
  • (a close second)

As I thought about the idea more I remember an Ancient Jewish law you can find in the Bible which bound landowners not to harvest the edges of their field nor the gleanings (stuff missed on the first pass), but should leave that for the poor and alien. (Lev. 23:22). Change, it seemed to me could be the modern-day equivalent to this. So, I decided to start up CoinDonor focused on trying to find creative ways to help and encourage people give their change.

Sometimes helpful hurts

I frequent several websites (Cingular for example) that have a feature in their data entry forms for phone numbers that automatically jumps out of the area code, into the "first three", and then finally into the "last four". So you just type:


and happily it fills out the form like

234 654 7890

However, what these technical luminaries fail to realize is two things:

  1. Not everyone can touch type numbers (much less touch type at all)
  2. The vast marjority of the forms on the web that solicit phone numbers either don't break the field in three parts, or don't have the fancy "auto tabbing" feature.

The result of this miscalculation is a customer experience that leads to the form being filled out like this:

234 ___ 654_

And if the final tab takes you into another field (say name). Your "name" happily starts out as "7890"

Frustrated the customer has a mess to cleanup, and if they're anything like me, they'll discover when "Helpful hurts" as they accidentally (despite now knowing) repeat the same mistake because the "tab" is in their fingers. This time slightly closer because they repositioned the cursor in the "first three" field so they have:

234 654 ____

With name still starting as "7890". Maybe I'm abnormal because I use the web ALL THE TIME, but I bet not, and I'd bet larger money that Cingular (and others) haven't user-tested this feature.

Monday, June 21, 2004

God and e-mail

I was doing a little clean-up of my e-mail inbox this morning. I had a folder structure that looked like this:

The Future/

As I was surfing through it, I decided that it wasn't well organized, had irrelevant stuff in it, and basically needed an overhaul. So I moved Business up a level and gave it some sub-folders and moved the personal stuff around into existing folders. Finally I DELETED 'THE FUTURE', which gave me a chuckle.

What is God's UI to His creation? I don't know but I'm pretty certain that it can't be Outlook.