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iPhone photo test 

Testing new Shozu iPhone app with blogger. Let's see if it works!!

Posted by ShoZu


iPhone Blog Test

I am testing a new free app for my iPhone that allows me to post blog updates and photos to Thep's World. This is part of the 2.0 software- I don't have the 3G phone yet- though I did try to get one today on a whim... But that is another story.

Posted with LifeCast


Sad month for Special Effects and Seven Special Words

I never knew this, but my very first introduction to Stan Winston was on the Star Wars holiday special. He created the Wookie costumes for the show. I was a Star Wars nut and to see Star Wars on TV was awesome! Better yet, to see Chewbacca and his family, Han Solo, R2D2, C3PO and Luke was more than enough to drive me bonkers. The show was horrendous, but it was Star Wars and to a six year old kid, it was the greatest TV ever. I read Stan's biography on Wikipedia to get an idea of how prolific he was. I had already become acquainted with Stan Winston from the great horror classic John Carpenters The Thing and fun 3D slasher flick Friday the 13th part 3. But it was the movies Terminator, Aliens, The Monster Squad, Predator, T2, and Jurassic Park that made me a HUGE fan. At one point in my early life, I wanted to become a special effects / makeup artist because of Stan Winston and another of my favorites Rick Baker.

I'm sure there are incidents in everyone's life that sort of define who you are as you grow up. Now I am not going to profess that Stan Winston was a direct influence on who I am today (there were many), but he did have a very early and profound impact on how I view movies and special effects. He actually made me fall in love with the technical aspects of movie magic- he made me ask the question "how did they do that?" and more importantly, he was the catalyst to find out how they did it. With movies like The Thing and a brooding hulk with a hockey mask- he steered me to the horror genre, with all the inventive ways in creating monsters and gore. I was fascinated with the idea of tapping into my creative side, which did directly impact my life.

So it is with a heavy heart, that I bid farewell to a man who created magic before our eyes and inspired me to watch movies from a slightly different perspective, but most importantly, showed my how to allow my imagination to run wild.

Stan Winston 1946 -2008

George Carlin was a funny man. He was also a deep thinker and a commenter of business, government, race, politics, and religion. The BIG world he called it. I just caught him on the Actors Studio being fawned over by James Lipton. Aside from the incessant gushing, I was treated to some insights on how George thought. He was an atheist and quite astonishingly an optimist. He was an optimist in an extreme way- he stated that he hoped the extra-terrestrials would interfere again and sort of reboot the human race so we could all get along. Call it a fantasy or sarcasm, but I got the impression that he was a believer in man, but that we were sinking into places that were not meant to come back from.

I guess the strongest thing you can say about George Carlin as a comedian was his biting commentary of man's hypocrisy. From the Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television, the difference between baseball and football, to how much a person is attached to their stuff- he was a genius at poking fun at our own idiosyncrasies and hang ups. He wasn't afraid of controversy and I think relished the thought of being the center of man's own self indulgence when pointed at and ridiculed for his foul language and harsh words- I could see Carlin's raised eyebrow to quiet the naysayers. Yes, it was language that George loved. He loved the combination of images that words could create like, "rough sex with a Norwegian sailor on a barcalounger."

I watched Carlin on many occasions and enjoyed watching him with my father. My dad, who has very strong opinions, would never agree to everything Carlin stated, but we both found the humor and the point in what he was saying and ultimately doing: trying to show what we, as a species, are really like; the good, the bad, and the ugly. For my dad, Carlin was a funny man with some misdirection. For me, he was one of the greatest stand up comedians that ever lived and one of our most vocal satirists in the new millennium.

From his cutting commentary on government and religion, his hilarious introspection of ill-fitted words (near-miss), to his views on our species- George Carlin will be missed for not only making us laugh, but by making us think as we do it.

George Carlin 1937-2008


Firefox 3.0: First Impressions

They say first impressions are often the truest. If that is the case, the new release of Firefox (version 3.0) is going to last with me for a while.

If you don't know already, I am a huge Firefox fan. I divorced IE way back in early 2006. I played around with Firefox until 1.5 came out and I transferred over. I only use IE when needed- all of it at work. Some of the things that lured me away from IE was the tabbed browsing and extensions. IE did this years ago before they started adding all that fat into the core app. Firefox was a breath of fresh air. Small footprint, fast, and customizable. I loved the idea of adding nifty tools that I needed or wanted to play around with.

So, I installed Firefox 3.0 last night. As with every major release of FF, the various extensions, or add-ons as they call them now, may stop working with the newer version. So I decided to upgrade my version of FF on my home Mac. Currently I am using a Mac-mini, exclusively for about 8 months now, since my home PC decided to cook my motherboard. Since then, I have become a full-fledged Mac-Fanboy. I'll write a separate post on my switch over to the Mac and what I love about them and why I am turning my back on Windows. In the meantime, check out David Allison's blog on his conversion to Mac from Windows and his new found love for the fruity machine- good stuff.

Anyway, back to FF. I decided to test out FF on my home PC where I don't need all my bells and whistles for browsing at home. After installing it on the Mac-mini (a cinch) I was greeted with 2 things. A complete GUI overhaul that looks a lot like Apple's Safari and the dreaded, "These add-ons are not compatible screen". Now, in the past I have ventured into the beta for FF early on but in this go round, I decided to not mess around with all that fun. Two reasons for that- 1: I did not have the time to play around with it; 2: I didn't want to loose my core extensions. I'll break down my Firefox 3 impressions in a couple of sections below:

After updating FF, I was greeted to a Safari-esk GUI. I'm a big fan of the Safari skin, so this was a pleasant surprise. Firefox calls this Platform-Native Look & Feel. Depending on what OS you install FF 3 on, the default GUI will resemble the OS look and feel. So in my case, it looks a lot like Safari- which is not bad. I am hoping that I can choose this skin in my Windows environment when I switch over. I like the simplicity and clean look of the default GUI now. I hated the original one. It looked too beta if you would for me. I used the Noia 2.0 Extreme theme pre 3.0 and it was a good one. I like the rounder edges to all the input fields and the colorful icons. The beauty of Firefox is you can personalize the skin with whatever you like. other than that, everything else seems to "look" the same so far.

The Awesome Bar. Yes, that is what Firefox's video calls the new address bar. It has a variety of features and they aren't too shabby. They now have a much better history management tool called the library accessible straight from the address bar. You can browse your history from there, bookmark sites with a single or double click, and tag sites for easier access.

Better Download Manager. Now with the ability to pause and resume downloads, even after crashes. You also have the ability to search your downloads right from the dialogue box- nifty.

Add-ons Manager. This area has been revamped totally. With hot buttons running along the top for new add-ons, existing extensions, themes and plugins- the interface feels more intuitive and is much better laid out. Firefox will display new Add-ons available to you with ratings and descriptions, some of which are pretty deep, right from the Add-ons screen. They even let you search for new Add-ons right from that interface. No more sending you to the web page for extensions. This area looks great and is a huge improvement over the old iteration.

Some Other Features:

Full Zoom
Instant Website ID
Tab scrolling and quickmenu

Save Tabs
Support for Widgets and Growl in OSX

Ah yes, the extensions. I am not going to go crazy here- there are already a ton of extensions available for FF 3. I am going to talk about the extensions I had, which do not work now or that I had to replace. I have a set of must have extensions for FF posted to the left of my blog for anyone interested. This list was prior to 3.0, but I have since added the 3.0 replacements- if any. In short, if you have extensions that you really can't live without, make sure they are available before upgrading or check for any alternatives.

I replaced the following extensions:

Google Browser Sync with Foxmarks
note: Google, it seems, has stopped any and all development on Google Browser Sync. They are not upgrading it for FF 3 and will not support it after 2008- sigh, I really like that extension. There is no other so far with all of its features currently available. Mozilla has something called Weave, but they are no longer accepting registration at the moment.

Super DragandGo with QuickDrag

Could not replace:
Add Bookmark Here- still testing FF's bookmarking to see if it will be a good enough replacement.

I've only been using FF now for about 2 days, but I am very happy with the overall speed. It opens pages much quicker and feels more responsive. I don't have any benchmark data to go by right now, but I can really tell the difference. I did however jump through some websites that have a lot going on like Disney, Nickelodeon, PlayStation, and NBC and all of them loaded pretty quick. I'll probably need more time with it to get a better feel of the overall performance, and with less memory being used, I definitely think that performance is much better.

So what does all this mean? If you haven't guessed- go out and get it. If you haven't tried Firefox at all, this is the perfect opportunity to jump in. With a very well tuned and polished user interface, this version of Firefox leaves IE in the dust. For those Firefox loyalists, if you haven't taken the leap, it is safe on the other side. Give it a try- no nasty surprises. I would only remind you of the possibility of some of your favorite extensions not being supported. Other than that- all seems well in the land of Mozilla. They really addressed many issues in this release and I think that Firefox can restart its share-munching of the browser market.

Firefox is back in form.




Well, I finally created my first blog. Not sure how it will go- currently I am neck deep in 3 very large projects for my job- so my posting habits may be varied. Hopefully, I will be able to keep up and bullshit about the things I like and hate.

I am currently also working on a Podcast with two of my friends. The site is if your interested. It centers around anything that is geeky. There is no show as of this date, but we are very close to getting that done. We are working on how to record the podcast with two macs and a win pc. Skype is okay with 2 people, but it gets sorta garbly with three. As soon as that is worked out, the first show will be out.

I was cleaning up my bookmarks in Firefox as I was repairing a friends laptop (the pitfall of knowing your way around a PC). I was actually trying to re-organize them. I haven't figured out the best way yet- just sub folders withing folders, but I figure there has to be a better way - maybe I'm too lazy to think of a proper directory listing that makes sense. I want to just get to my links easy enough, but also keep it somewhat clean. Ah well, I'll just keep refining it as I go.

A quick shout out to GOOGLE Browser Sync- a must have, can't live without, add-on for Firefox. This add-on syncs your bookmarks to your Google Email account and updates it to all your other Firefox browsers with the add-on. It is OSM, works in the background and is spot on! Speaking of must have add-ons (I'll write up a separate post on this later come to think of it), there is an add-on I can't live without called Super DragAndGo. This little gem lets you open new web pages or tabs (however you have Firefox setup- I do Tabs) by simply dragging the link and dropping it anywhere on the page. Sounds dumb, I know, but it beats right clicking a link and selecting open in new tab or new window. It is way convenient and once you use it, you'll never get used to the right click feature that Safari or IE offers.

Well, it looks like I finally got the laptop up to speed. All updated, start up is slimmed down, and I removed the ContraVirus adware as well (I really do hate those things). Now I'll go play me some MGS 4- very good game for the Playstation 3. If you have the console- you most likely have this game- it lives up to the hype. For those of you who don't have the PS3, this is the game to get with the console, at least until Little Big Planet comes out.


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