Category Archives: Techie


Several weeks ago, Becky and I finally joined the crowd and bought DDR [(if you don’t know what that is, read about it over at Wikipedia)]( Specifically, we bought Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 3. Also, since we didn’t have a video game system to play it on, we bought a used XBOX, and of course some dance pads to use for playing the game.


Becky poses in a DDR move


[A few more pics here.](

We had heard about DDR a while back, I believe on the Today show, where there was a segment on kids who lost weight while playing DDR. Then our friend [Jenny]( mentioned using it as part of her excercise regimen, so we thought it sounded intriguing. We finally got a chance to play on Martha’s Vineyard, when the Lyttles had it in their cottage. They had the Xbox version, which has some really great songs. Later on, we went up to Jenny’s apartment and tried her version, on the PS2, with the workout mode. After that, we decided that we had to get it. 🙂

We ended up going with the Xbox version because we felt that it had more enjoyable songs, and that is key in our enjoyment of the game. Since we didn’t have any video games already, we didn’t have a particular loyalty to a gaming platform no matter whether good or bad. Surprisingly, I was pragmatic enough to let slide the fact that the Xbox is manufactured by Microsoft. 🙂 It certainly works well enough to play DDR, which is the only thing we have plans to use it for.

The game is really a lot of fun, and it is, as best I can tell, a very good workout. We have workout mode turned on, which is a game-wide mode that tracks calories burned during any type of game play. You input your weight, which it uses in a fairly simplistic calculation to determine calories burned. After you complete each dance session, your calories burned are summarized. You can also track your daily calorie burn record in the main Workout Mode menu. It draws a pretty graph, and it also charts your weight over time (assuming that you edit your weight in the game as you take the measurements on your own).

There are a few areas where DDR is weak. It doesn’t take your body through a full range of motion, particularly in the upper body. Also, although it does raise your heart rate, it doesn’t keep it up, which is key to developing good cardiovascular health. In addition, there is no stretching, warm-up, or cool-down built anywhere into DDR. You can get that on your own by changing difficulty levels and doing stretching beforehand, but that can be easy to forget. Continue reading here Finally, it is a fairly high-impact excercise. The jumping and foot stomping can be pretty hard on your joints.

We haven’t been doing it for long enough yet to see any solid results in one way or another, but we are both definitely feeling better, and it’s a heck of a lot better way to spend our time than watching TV in the evenings. 🙂 We are certainly getting more excercise this way than we ever did with our gym membership!

If anyone’s in the area and wants to come check it out, let us know. We’d be glad to have you over. 🙂

Bloglines Reboot

Shortly after Catherine was born, I came to the realization that I had far too many subscriptions in my [Bloglines]( account. I think the number was somewhere around 324… yikes. Most of the subscriptions I had, I rarely read in detail, and most of them weren’t about things for which I cared very deeply. The simple fact that the subscriptions were there, waiting to be read, weighed on my psyche, and the fact that I wasn’t giving the attention I had originally intended was what [David Allen]( would call ‘breaking an agreement I made with myself’. At some point in the past, I had made an agreement (consciously or subconsciously, it doesn’t really matter) that I would read all of the items in these very interesting Bloglines subscriptions. As time went by, and I kept adding more subscriptions, the practical reality of being able to keep up with all of them ended. I had broken my own agreement, and that brought along with it bad feelings and an overwhelming sense of delinquency.

So what I did was renegotiate the agreement. Rather than reading every single blog that I thought would be vaguely interesting, I decided that what I would do is only follow those blogs that I really cared about in some meaningful way, something that was more or less directly related to me. True, this meant that I would stop reading some blogs that contained interesting techie news, and that I might miss a few pithy sayings from some internet personality or another, but in reality, it simply meant that I would be using [Bloglines]( to keep track of the stuff I really cared about.

Basically, this was a sort of ‘de-toxing’ process that involved several steps over a period of weeks:

1. I deleted all subscriptions from my Bloglines account.
2. I deleted all links to Bloglines from all of the web browsers I used. This included [Chad](’s excellent [Bloglines Toolkit](
3. I did not use Bloglines at all for one week. This part was tough, as I had developed a ‘tic’ to check bloglines any time that I stopped thinking about the task at hand. Bad habit, but it’s gone now. I did check a few of my favorite websites occasionally by just clicking through from our [blogroll](
4. After I had broken my habit, I went through our blogroll and picked out the blogs that I really did care about and felt that I really could benefit from reading. I’ve got them organized into three folders. One is called “People I care about”, which has all of my friends whose blogs I really do want to keep track of. The next one is called “News that pertains to me.” This one has news feeds about things that directly impact me. For example, news feeds for software that I use, so that I can stay up to date with any important updates or security issues. The final one is called “Current Projects”. That’s where I put feeds that are related to something I’m currently working on, but may not want to read in the long term. I regularly review this folder and take out anything that I don’t have any current use for. The list is currently a very reasonable 72 feeds – 40 to 50 of which are in the “People I care about” category, most of which are for friends who don’t blog all that much (and hence don’t generate that many items for me to read).
5. P.S. I am using your toolkit again, Chad… just to keep track of only the blogs I care about. 🙂 P.P.S Your blog happens to be one of them. 😉

I feel like I’m paying a lot more attention to the blogs for people I care about, and a lot less attention to stuff that really doesn’t require my attention. Sure, I’m probably not up on all of the latest rumors on Mac or techie stuff, and I don’t know about every event that’s going on everywhere in the world, but I *am* keeping track of the things that matter most.

Backup Strategy

Somewhere within the first two weeks after Catherine was born, I found the time to implement a (mostly) comprehensive backup strategy for our website data and our home computer data. We’ve actually been operating without any type of backup for a while now, living dangerously as it were. So I decided that with all of the changes we’ve been going through recently, and the exponential increase in the amount of data we’ve been collecting (web and email content, images, video, etc), it would be smart to implement a good method for backing everything up.

If you’re interested in how I set it up, please read on.

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Recent Acquisitions

Things wear out, things stop working. So I’ve recently made a couple of acquisitions.

First, new shoes: [Hi-Tec Multiterra 2 Sport]( (color as pictured), for everyday and summer excursion wearing. They have a system of criss-crossing shoelaces that allow me to tie them up tight. And they have squishy rubber soles to minimize bone-crushing impact when I am walking. They also have convenient pull-tabs on the heels to make it easier to put them on. Finally, they are made of a breathable material so that my sweaty feet do not suffocate as they would in, say, a sealed neoprene sock. Oh, the wonders of modern footwear.

Second, a new cell phone: [Sanyo RL-4930]( Towards the end of last week, my trusty [Sanyo SCP-8100]( suddenly lost its ability to receive a signal. I took it over to the Sprint Store, and they said that they couldn’t fix the problem (their first question was “Did you take it out of the country?” Um…. nope! It was sitting on our counter one night, and all of a sudden it stopped working!) They offered to give me a reconditioned replacement SCP-8100, which would cost me $50. The other option was to get a $150 rebate on a brand new phone, so I decided to take that. I liked the RL-4930 because it was small, rugged, and feature-packed… it does cool stuff like recording up to 130 minutes of voice memos, speech recognition (you can say “Dial Number 555-1212” and it will dial it), and speakerphone (not a groundbreaking feature, but a feature that I’ve never had on a cell phone). Also, should I ever decide to sign up for Sprint’s “ReadyLink” push-to-talk feature, this phone is compatible. (Anybody have Sprint ReadyLink?) It continues to have the excellent user interface that I have come to know and love in Sanyo phones. It doesn’t have a camera, but that’s okay… I’ve never met an affordable camera phone that I liked. I ended up paying $30 for this new phone. Good deal!

Better Living Through Email

A while back, I read an article in the Christian Science Monitor entitled, “[It’s all about me: Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood](”. In this article, contributor Daniel Enemark writes, “In a world where businesses and friends often depend upon e-mail to communicate, scholars want to know if electronic communications convey ideas clearly.” The scholars in question conclude that email doesn’t adequately convey emotion, which leads to emails being misunderstood. While I do agree that an email doesn’t contain all of the same visual cues, vocal tones, and subtleties that face-to-face or telephone conversations possess, I don’t agree that this is the primary reason emails are so easily misunderstood.

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Site5 Frustrations

I’m glad that Becky has been blogging quite a bit recently, because even though there are a lot of things I have to blog about, I haven’t been able to get any of them worked into an actual post. So here’s an attempt at covering just one of those things: some of my frustrations with [Site5](, the web hosting provider for

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Prepare yourself for a shock

So, over the last few months you’ve all heard about Peter’s new technological acquisitions. He has been very happy with his new toys and has been spending time tweaking them to his liking.

“What about you, Bec?” You might ask. “What have you gotten lately?”

Well, I have indeed made a few techy purchases of my own. The first is a pretty little piece of metal called the 30gig Video iPod. See it here:

ppp|30g iPod|ppp

I am pretty enamored with it. It is shiny and little and has a color screen. Not only does it play music, but I can watch videos and look at pictures on it! Doesn’t get better than that!

I was also a little concerned about my picture taking abilities once the baby comes along. Peter’s camera is great, but it is hardly the kind of camera you pull out at a moment’s notice to take a snapshot of little BabyWood schmering squash all over the table… So we went looking for a “point and shoot” digital camera. Here’s what we found:

ppp|Canon A530|ppp

[edit] It is a Cannon Powershot A530. It has a few little issues: the flash recycle time is kind of slow, the screen is a little grainy… but it works for my purposes and was definately in my price range (ie. cheap).

I’m still figuring out how to take good pictures with it, but I’m planning on reading the manual and practicing. Never fear. I’m glad to have an easy to use camera and look forward to capturing many many precious moments 😉

Don’t think for a moment, though, that I’ve completely jumped to the geeky side… Peter was trying to convince me to get a new cell phone tonight…I told him that I was still plenty happy with the phone I have. Yes. The one he bought in 2000 and gave me when he grew tired of it. I like its size, shape, etc. and it still works like a charm. Why fix what isn’t broken?

Video Killed The Photography Star?




Thanks to some closeout pricing, funding from various sources, and a hefty amount of research, we have purchased our first camcorder. We decided on the [Panasonic PV-GS150](, a compact [MiniDV]( camcorder. It uses [3CCD]( technology to capture excellent video, and it fits in the palm of your hand. We have yet to take it out for any serious testing, but I think that you can expect to see some new movies on our site within the next few months, and definitely plenty of them after the baby is born. (I know, not everybody on the web wants to see every delightful moment of our baby’s life. We will do our best not to go crazy with it.)

The only trick for me now is going to be trying to balance my existing interest in photography with my new interest in videography. The PV-GS150 does have the capability to take still photos, but it’s not anywhere near as capable as its cousin, Panasonic’s [DMC-FZ20]( We’ll probably end up carting both of them around, and maybe Becky and I will do a bit of cross-training to split up the photo and video tasks. Hopefully the quantity and quality of my photography won’t suffer.