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30 March 2007

Bill Richardson for President

The democratic campaigns are kicking it up for the end of the quarter, and they want my money!
With the election still being 19 months away, I'd been hesitant to fork out any money to any campaigns.  I supported Edwards very early in the last election until he was defeated in the primaries.  Supporting democratic campigns early on is something I just do these days.
Well, I made my first campaign contribution today.  And it wasn't to the Edwards campaign.
Governor Bill Richardson got my money today.
Although Clinton and Obama being the defacto leaders, and Edwards getting a lot of "face time" recently, I don't think any of these candidates are qualified to lead our country.  None of them have enough experience, none of them have experience in the administrative branch of the government.  I know too many democrats who've already said they won't vote for Hillary, and I think Obama might make a good President.. some day.
But Bill Richardson... he's a governor, and governor's make good presidents (fact, not fiction).  Governors WIN presidential elections.  Senators do not.
Former UN Ambassador, Secretary of Energy, etc... he might be good for the latino vote too!

If you're a democrat or democrat-leaner... check out www.richardsonforpresident.com
I'm Rick, and I approved this message.
Posted by rickroot at 8:15 PM | Link | 8 comments
27 March 2007

The era of Album Rock is long gone..

The 70s was known as the era of Album Rock.  Bands put out great albums, and some of them weren't necessarily the world's most radio friendly, but they were great albums that had themes and flowed from track to track smoothly.  You could tell what the artist was going for.  These "Albums" were more about the artist making their music than the record label trying to make money.

Not that Pink Floyd didn't rake in the dough.

Pink Floyd was one of the great album artists of all time - in large part due to the creative control that Roger Waters exercised over the band.  Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall are two great examples.

I can't claim that I blogged this years ago (but look at this), however I did have a conversation with my friend Jason a few weeks ago on the topic.

The album era is long gone, and not only that, the era of albums may be coming to a close.  And the New York Times agrees with me.

"Albums" in the 80s and 90s were just collections of songs which usually consisted of a hit or two and then "filler" which the record label had to pay for to justify releasing an album.  In the day of internet music, with people buying only the songs they're interested in thanks to ITunes, or just listening to the songs they want via some subscription service like Rhapsody (my favorite), what's the point of releasing the "filler"?

I think as we move forward, we're going to find musicians recording and releasing songs - not albums.  Record a song, put it up on myspace, blog about it, and watch it go.  Radio stations don't get albums anyway, do they?  The only Billboard chart actually based on album sales is the Billboard Album Chart.  Talk about irrelevant.

Posted by rickroot at 12:22 PM | Link | 2 comments
26 March 2007

Workin' For The Weekend

Nothing like a good Loverboy reference to start out the blog entry today, eh?

I had a super productive weekend.  Saturday morning was swim lesson registration at the YMCA, so I dragged my tired butt out of bed at 6:00 AM, ate some breakfast, then drove over to the Y to stand in line.  Yup.  I arrived around 6:30, and there were a LOT of people in line.  You see, at 7:30 they pass out numbers and time slots... then you come back for your allotted timeslot, with the first timeslot being 8am.  I ended up with #93, so I went home, filled out all the paperwork, and returned to the YMCA at 9am to wait for my number to be called (which was around 9:20).  Luckily we were able to get Emily registered for the first session, which was the one we wanted.  Hooray!  They do swim lessons 4 days per week for 2 weeks here.  I could actually have registered her for multiple sessions but we decided to go with just one.  That's 8 days of swimming lessons over a span of 11 days.

After that, I drove up to Merchant's Tire to get some new tires for the Mazda.  Damned low profile tires are EXPENSIVE!  I had driven around the week before getting prices on cheap tires, and Merchant's tire pretty much won out, which was nice because I like going there anyway.  All told, I ended up spending $550 on 4 tires, mounting, balancing, "road hazard insurance", and a wheel alignment which was apparently necessary.  Frak!  Nothing like forking out that kind of cash for a car you'll only be driving for another 12 months / 15,000 miles!

While I was waiting, I wondered over to the nearby strip mall and looked at TV stands at Wal-Mart.  Adrienne and Emily joined me after her soccer practice was over, and we bought some new sandals for Emily.  We're getting some distinctly summer weather this week, so the timing was right.  Afterwards, I picked up my car and we all went home for "quiet time".

Having a child is a good excuse to take a saturday afternoon nap!

I started working on the boat after nap time, which involved washing it (ammonia, white vinegar, and corn starch!), and then I spent some time waxing it.  Got half the boat waxed before I had to head out for the hockey game (CAnes won, 6-4).

Sunday was more of the same.  I mowed the front lawn, sprayed weed killer (Ortho Weed-B-Gone) and sprayed some Round Up too along the fenceline and such, and then went back to working on the boat.

It has some black side trime that was really REALLY badly weathered, so I had picked up a can of automotive spray paint the other day, and used it to pretty it up a bit.  I got a nice glossy black with metallic flecks in it to spray on, and it turned out pretty decent.  After the paint had all dried, I finished waxing the rest of the boat.

Honestly, the wax helped a little, but there's not much you can do to 20 year old fiberglass, short of completely repainting the entire thing.  No thanks!

I also ripped off the seat pads from the bow, and along the sides, which I'm hoping to have re-upholstered.  It's just cosmetic work, but these things count.  I also vacuumed the entire boat, and washed down the inside of the bow as well.

With dad's help, I was finally able to get the damn gearshift out of the side board so I can get that reupholstered too.

I replaced the hinges on the engine cover so that's nice and solid again.

Next weekend, I'm going to replace the alternator belt, and take her back to the marina until the upholstery is done, and probably ask them to de-winterize it and give it a spring tuneup.  Hopefully, she'll be "seaworthy" in a few weeks!  That's all assuming I can get the gearshift back on! =)

Overall, a damn fine weekend.

Burnt the crap out of the back of my neck too.

Posted by rickroot at 4:19 PM | Link | 0 comments
23 March 2007

One Remote To Rule Them All - Logitech Harmony 880

I'm going to talk about my recent purchase of the Logitech Harmony 880 Universal Programmable Remote.. but first, some backstory..

Remember the old days, when you ran you cable or antenna into your VCR... and then ran a cable from the VCR into the TV?  Volume always went through the TV... channel control was always in the VCR, and life was simple.  The VCR remote almost always had no problem controlling the TV, and you were good to go.

Then came cable boxes, which usually added a new level of complexity.  It was rare that the cable remote would control the VCR.

Click for a larger viewAnd then, with the advent of DVDs, home theater systems became far more popular than they ever were before.  And now you had a stereo system in the mix with your cable box and probably still a VCR.

The next step was digital audio... optical here, coax there.  And then HDTV and component video ... now the TVs are more complicated than ever.

All this audio visual complexity makes a tech geek's life difficult.  It's not like *I* can't handle using 3-4 remotes as needed.  And my 5 year old can be trained.... but my wife... well when I recently added a stereo system to our primary TV watching area... things got too complicated.  The cable remote would only barely work the TV, and wouldn't control the stereo at all.  The stereo remote wouldn't control the TV either, nor the cable box.  Most universal remotes are incredibly complicated to use and set up.... and I got tired real quickly of the complaints about how the damned home theater system works.

So I did some research, and discovered the Logitech Harmony 880.  The Harmony series of remotes from Logitech are high tech gadgets that are programmable and updatable via computer software and a USB cable.  Plug it into your computer, run the software, and it guides you through the setup process.

The first thing you do is set up your devices.  You tell the software what brand your TV is, your DVD player, your VCR, your stereo, your game console, your CD player, etc... whatever components you have.  Then you tell it what model numbers these devices are.  And it automatically sets them up in your remote.  And trust me, the software has everything.  It's pretty incredible.  Brands I've never even heard of before.

The important thing with the Harmony remotes is that they control your system based on "Activities".  Activities can include "Watch Cable", "Watch DVD", "Watch VCR", "Listen to CDs", "Listen to Radio", "Play Video Games", etc.  In each case, you use the software to define what devices you want to use for each activity, which devices will control the volume and the channels, etc.

So when I push the "Play DVD" button, it automatically turns on the DVD player, TV, and Stereo... switches the stereo to "DVD", and switches the TV to YCbCr.  If I cick "Play Game", it switches the TV to "AV" and switches the Stereo to "VCR" (which is where I have the Gamecube audio going).  If I choose "Watch Cable", it switches the stereo to "TV", switches the TV to "HDTV", and puts the remote of DVR mode so it can properly control the cable box.

The thing that amazed me the most is that this remote will control *ALL* of the features of my devices.  I have a One For All Universal Remote, which is nice... but it doesn't have a LIST button or the "A" "B" "C" buttons like the cable remote does.  So I still had to keep the cable remote around.  The Harmony 880's LCD screen takes care of all this, so while the remote doesn't have a ridiculous amount of buttons, the LCD screen takes care of the "special" buttons that aren't common from one device to another.

Programming the Harmony 880 remote was very easy.  It took about 10 minutes, and everything worked great.

Using the remote is easy too.  It has the look and feel of a modern cell phone, particularly the way the LCD screen works with the 10 buttons around the edge of the LCD screen that dynamically change to control whatever is currently on the LCD screen.

If you're looking for a remote control that will make your world easier, this one is certainly worth while.

Buy this remote at Amazon.com!  Great Price!

Posted by rickroot at 7:36 AM | Link | 1 comment
22 March 2007

3 Minute Management Class

Lesson 1
A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbor. Before she says a word, Bob says, "I'll give you $800 to drop that towel." After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob. After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves. The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, "Who was that?" "It was Bob the next door neighbor," she replies. "Great!" the husband says, "did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?"

Moral of the story: If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2
A priest offered a Nun a lift. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg. The nun said, "Father, remember Psalm 129?" The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again. The nun once again said, "Father, remember Psalm 129?" The priest apologized "Sorry sister but the flesh is weak." Arriving at the convent, the nun went on her way.

On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, "Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory."

Moral of the story: If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Lesson 3
A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out. The genie says, "I'll give each of you just one wish."Me first! Me first!" says the admin clerk. "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world." Puff! She's gone.

"Me next! Me next!" says the sales rep. "I want to be in Hawaii , relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life." Puff! He's gone.

"OK, you're up," the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, "I want those two back in the office after lunch."

Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 4
An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing?" The eagle answered: "Sure, why not." So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Lesson 5
A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy." Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. They're packed with nutrients." The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story: Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Lesson 6
A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Moral of the story:

  1. Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy
  2. Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend
  3. And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!


This ends the 3-minute management course.

Posted by rickroot at 7:07 AM | Link | 0 comments
21 March 2007

I updated my home page

I know, it's a shocker, but I significantly changed the content of my home page today (www.rickroot.com) for the first time in probably 4 years.   It was really pretty worthless before but now it contains more information about me, my freelance web development, the last 10 entries from this blog and opensourcecf.com, and the 10 most recently updated photo galleries from Google Picasa.

Note to Raymond Camden - thanks for rss.cfc, you're freakin' awesome!

Posted by rickroot at 4:45 PM | Link | 0 comments

Commenting Re-enabled on I Like You, Games

Last week, I got tired of dealing with comment spam and the generally "junior high" mentality of the commenters who post on my free flash games pages.  I don't know how many times I could deal with one user calling another user a fag and insulting each others moms, and let's not forget all the foul language.

This also affected the I Like You page, which apparently some people were using to send good vibes to our troops in Iraq.

Well I'm happy to say that I've re-enabled commenting on this pages, although in a more restricted fashion.  Commenters must now enter a valid email address, and their comment will only be published once they click a link confirming their comment in an email sent to that address.

These pages used to get a ton of comments every day.  There's only been one comment since I re-enabled them, I guess people are afraid of tying a valid email address to whatever they're trying to say, and that's good.  It should p revent most of the comment spammers, and keep the 7th graders from posting "anonymously"

But for those of you wishing to post legitimate comments on those pages.. have it it!

While you're there, click on the free nintendo wii link too.  I really want one!

Posted by rickroot at 7:17 AM | Link | 1 comment
20 March 2007

Free Nintendo Wii For Me!

Yes, I'm trying to get a free Nintendo Wii

Some of you remember this, and some of you might not know... but a couple years ago, I made a killing with Gratis Networks freeipod.com and associated web sites.  You see, I have this relatively popular page that gets a lot of hits.. one of those viral things, and I posted my "Free Ipod" and "Free Mac Mini" links there.  Ended up getting an ipod, a nano, a shuffle, a mac mini, and a 24" TV/DVD/VCR combo.  Plus a variety of free stuff for my friends.

I'm working on a free Nintendo Wii now.  It's been a while since I've done this, so we'll see how it goes!  I usually get away without whoring myself out to my friends, but just in case you want to get in on the action too, here's my link:


This time, I subscribed to 3 months of Entertainment Weekly for $10.  So if I'm able to get 6 referrals to "complete an offer", then I'll get a Nintendo Wii for a whopping $10.

No really, I did get a bunch of free stuff already this way!  It's no scam.


Posted by rickroot at 12:00 PM | Link | 1 comment
15 March 2007

More Pie For The Bigger Schools? Just Say No!

It recently came to my attention that there is a bill being considered in the State of Michigan that would send MORE state funding to the 3 largest universities (the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University).  As I understand it, right now each university gets a certain amount of state funding based on enrollment.  Everyone gets the same amount per student.

The three largest universities which already get more funding by virtue of being larger, would like to get *MORE* per student than the other 9 state universities.

This strikes me as a bad idea.  These three universities already have an advantage in their ability to raise funds for themselves because of their larger alumni base, and in the case of Michigan and MSU, prominent athletic programs that build alumni loyalty and even bring in money from non-alumni (my friend Steve is a supporter of UofM athletics, and he never attended Michigan).

I work in the fundraising office of a major university, and you can be sure that the smaller schools have no hope of raising the kind of cash that Michigan and Michigan State can bring in.

Here is an interesting article in the WMU News.  WMU's President Deither Haenicke (whom some of us referred to as "Detour" Haenicke in the early 90s because of the amount of construction on campus) recently spoke at a hearing of the House Appropriations Subcomittee on the topic.  It's worth a read.

Posted by rickroot at 9:56 AM | Link | 0 comments
14 March 2007

Flex SelectTree component

Note to self - The SelectTree component is a cool flex component that combines the functionality of a select list with the look of a tree control.
Posted by rickroot at 5:31 AM | Link | 1 comment

How to Scientifically Select Your NCAA Winners

Join my NCAA Tournament Charity Pool or my OpenSourceCF.com NCAA Pool!

My friend "cyklone" wrote this and posted it to the sports conference on M-Net.

For too long, naive NCAA office pool gamblers have made poor, uneducated choices. However, the savvy player knows that statistical analysis of years of tournament results reveal certain unalterable truths. Now, you too can share these little-known secrets . . . .

The State Rule

Avoid all teams with "State" in their name, except when it is preceded by the name of a real state and the state's name consists of one word. In other words, Michigan State, Ohio State and Arizona State are OK picks. But Rhode Island State and North Dakota State are not. Finally, never pick a team with "State" in its name if the preceding word is not actually a state. For instance, "Ball" is not a real state. Neither is Murray, or Wayne, or Weber.

Of course, some of you with long memories may object and point to North Carolina State. However, that was simply the exception that proved the rule. And we all know what happened to Coach Valvano.

The Geography Rule

Avoid all teams that have geographical indicators in their name such as North, East or Southwest. Thus, one should not expect a team named "Southeastern Idaho" to go far in the tournament. These teams sometimes win the first or second rounds, but will consistently lose thereafter. Bet on it.

The Mascot Rule

With two exceptions, always choose the team with the more aggressive-sounding nickname. A "Blue Demon" will almost always beat a "Duck." The skilled bettor is also particularly wary of nicknames that involve land, such as the "Pioneers", "Mountaineers", "Squatters" and "Surveyors."

The first exception, however, is when the nickname sounds nonsensical, such as "Billiken" or "Hoya." Believe it or not, these are proven winners. The second exception is to avoid aggressive nicknames that refer to teams in violation of the geography or state rules. Which means teams like the "Northeast West Virginia State Mountain Lions" will lose. Wager accordingly.

Posted by rickroot at 5:15 AM | Link | 3 comments
10 March 2007

Go Wolfpack!

I've been saying all along.. the NC State Wolfpack - who only finished the season 15-14, in 10th place in the ACC - have already proven they can beat any team at any time.  I didn't - and don't - expect them to win 4 games in 4 days.  This is a team with really only 5 guys who've played all year.  They usually end up with 5 guys playing well over 30 minutes... and usually over 35 minutes.  In today's defeat of Virginia Tech, one player (I don't remember which) played 39 minutes.

They beat Carolina once this year already - at home.  They played one half nose-to-nose with the heels in Chapel Hill and got blown out the second half because their coach was ill and went to the hospital at halftime and didn't come back for the rest of the game.

Carolina certainly should win the title... but the Pack has a lot more on the line.  Win, and they've got their first ACC title since 1987 (and 11th overall).  Win, and they're going to the NCAA tournament by virtue of an automatic bid.

Lose, and NC State will be relegated to the NIT - guaranteed.  They are NOT going to the dance with a 15-14 record without winning tomorrow, and they know it.

Carolina might get a #1 seed win or lose.

It's worth noting that the 1983 Wolfpack national championship team wouldn't have made the NCAA tournament either without an ACC title win - they were barely a .500 team in the regular season that year.

So I say... GO PACK!

Posted by rickroot at 9:16 PM | Link | 1 comment
09 March 2007

Just One Club Card

I don't know about you, but I have a Harris Teeter VIC card, a Food Lion MVP card, a Lowe's Food Greenpoints Card, a Kroger Plus Card, a CVS card, a PetSmart Pet Parks Card... etc.. etc.. on my keychain.

Well, here comes JustOneClubCard.com to save the day!

Allows you to enter the numbers from your little cards, and print out a single card the size of a business card to keep in your wallet with up to 8 of these things on it!
Posted by rickroot at 11:31 AM | Link | 1 comment