Sorry everyone, but as I was headed into work this morning I got a great idea of an April fools joke. With no notice and no warning, I decided I’d tell the world I know good-bye. I was heading to the other side of the world for a life of year round snowboarding and enjoying winter months year round. I had a good laugh all day and finally decided now to retract my previous blog/facebook status posts and fess up to the truth. I don’t want this post to only be about fessing up on April fools, so lets take a look at where the holiday came from.

The history of April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day is uncertain, but the current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year’s Day was moved from March 25 – April 1 (new year’s week) to January 1.

Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled “fools” by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on “fool errands,” sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a “poisson d’avril” or “April fish” because a young naive fish is easily caught. In addition, one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke.

This harassment evolved over time and a custom of prank-playing continue on the first day of April. This tradition eventually spread elsewhere like to Britain and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French. Because of this spread to other countries, April Fool’s Day has taken on an international flavor with each country celebrating the holiday in its own way. …(read more)

Link: My April Fools Joke Blog Post

Services like Netflix or Blockbuster Online have really made renting movies a lot easier, it seems like the hardest part is returning the DVDs to the warehouse. I mean DVDs arriving strait to your door is like the epitome of laziness, but it is also so great. I plan to post further about this in the future, but this is not the subject of this post. Today I am writing about a different convince. One which helps me to actually return my movies in a timely manor. I’m spoiled by email and delivering messages from either my desk or right from my phone on my hip. Finding a mail box on the route I’m already traveling is a huge help. I found myself wishing that there was some tool to help me find these road side mailboxes ahead of time rather then by combing the horizon with each turn I make on the way to work. Then I found Mailbox Map. It’s a mash up of Google maps and the United States Postal Service mailbox locations. just enter your address, or zip code, and you will instantly have a visual list of all the mail boxes on or near your location or planned route of travel. Here’s just another tool fueling my laziness and I love it!

Link: Mailbox Map

So I’m back from my trip to Wyoming catch the pictures if you haven’t yet. I really had a great trip, but as usual on trips to far away places the plane ride was extremely long and arduous. The flight took about 6 hours each way. While newer planes have a decent selection of movies, who wants to pay $2.00 for a headset, then $6.00 per movie? I had my own idea. I’ll catch up on some of the television shows I am behind on. So where do you find these episodes for download? Well you could go to iTunes and download each one, or search for a free alternative. Take a guess which I picked. If you haven’t already checked out you owe it to yourself to stop reading this, open a new browser tab, & go there. Hulu is great, there’s lots of content there and it’s all available 24/7/365. “But you can’t download from Hulu” you might say, & you’d be right, that is until Replay Media Catcher came along. Once you open RMC any flash video you are watching will be automatically downloaded to your computer. Once the download has finished, there is an option available to convert the file into a number of different formats for use on whatever portable device you so please. If importing to iTunes there’s even an easy check box to auto import to iTunes. The program sells for $40.00, and is a good deal for that price, but who pays for video ripping software these days? If you just can’t bring yourself to part with the cash, then check out the trial pay option.

It only took until Tuesday, after a short delay (snow day) from mother nature to get back to work from a great vacation. I flew out early last Sunday to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and skied for 5 days returning late Saturday night. The conditions were great! It was my first trip out west so I was psyched to get such good snow. Each night we got new snow & one day nearly a foot of fresh snow fell as we skied. In anticipation for the trip I bought a new camera replacing my Canon Powershot SD400 Digital Elph with another Canon, this time the SD1100 IS. I’ve been a big fan of the Canon cameras & their operating systems. I find Canon cameras extremely easy to use, and quite reliable. I took a bunch of pictures this past week, as did others I was with. I compiled, captioned, & posted them all on Picasa, take a look!

Link: Vacation Pictures from Jackson Hole, Wyoming – 2009

Recently I heard a rumor that cell phone companies were planning to release lists of their customer’s numbers to telemarketers. Telemarketers would likely love to get their hands on these new numbers, as the quantity of cell phone numbers now outnumbers that of land lines. Additionally calls to cell phones lead to a more targeted audience because the home phone can be answered by any number of people. A cell phone, on the other hand, is typically answered by only one person. This problem has not been a frequent one, although I do definitely get sales calls on my cell phone about five to ten times a year, so the thought of these calls becoming more frequent and disturbing me at inopportune times was a major concern. We all carry our cell phones on us nearly all the time. At work, school, meetings, church, a fancy restaurant, and many other places where we simply don’t want to be disturbed by even our close friends, never mind a telemarketer! This was going to take some research…

After a bit of searching I have learned that this is just a rumor which started out in a chain email. The e-mail says cell-phone numbers will be made public, and that telemarketers will start calling unless the user’s number is put on the National Do Not Call Registry. The e-mail then gives the phone number for the registry. Rosemary Kimball, a spokeswoman for the Federal Trade Commission, which operates the registry, tells us “That is totally inaccurate; there is no plan to release cell-phone numbers.” She further goes on to explain that there is no government cell-phone registry. Regulations already in place which prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phones. Even though this rumor has been proved to be false it does bring up a good point; how do we deal with telemarketers calling our cell phones? Where did they get my number in the first place? Most importantly, how do I get myself off their list?

Link: National Do not Call Registry – 1(888)382-1222

From the Boston Globe: A North Shore man who is sailing around the world by himself has rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa and is heading east into the teeth of a storm. “We’re pretty much on edge here right now,” said Rich Wilson, 58, of Marblehead, who has been sailing the 60-foot Great American III in the Vendee Globe solo yacht race for a month. “I’m tired. The boat’s going very fast. We’ve got a storm coming tomorrow night, so there’s a very high tension level not knowing how strong it’s going to be,” he said in a satellite telephone interview this afternoon from his boat. “This is the scary part of it all because you’re so far away from anything,” said Wilson.

Wilson said injuries he received earlier in the race to his back and ribs are much improved, but it’s grueling work sailing his boat, which was hitting 18 knots — that’s water skiing speed, he pointed out — under winds of about 35 knots this afternoon. Raising and lowering the boat’s sails is hard work and the craft is constantly in motion, he said. “This thing has been going on and on and it’s going to continue to go on and on and on,” said Wilson. “It can be pretty violent. You’ve just got to be holding on all the time. It’s tough … You’re going to have a nice night’s sleep, but I’m not.”

The race began Nov. 9 in the French port of Les Sables D’Olonne. It’s expected to last about 100 days. Stormy weather hit the participants just after they left the starting line, and some were forced to turn back.

Wilson is the president of sitesALIVE!, a company that works to connect students to learning adventures on land and sea. He is participating in the race to share his experiences with schoolchildren through the Newspaper in Education program. He doesn’t expect to win and is currently in 20th place out of 24 still in the race, with more than 17,000 nautical miles to go.

His log entries, photos, and podcasts can also be found at the website, where he also answers students’ questions. The site also contains essays from a team of experts on topics related to his voyage

Wilson was distracted for a moment during today’s interview by a loud noise outside the boat’s cabin, but then decided with relief it was “just a wave against the hull.”

“I’m tired and I’m probably not being particularly joyous today,” he said. “Tomorrow night’s going to be a tough night.”

-ByMartin Finucane, Boston Globe Staff.

Link: Great American III

This holiday season I’ve decided that I am going to try and entirely avoid gift cards. I want to give people gifts which are a little more thought out. While I acknowledge that gift cards allow the recipient to have their own choices in what specific gift they want, I don’t really feel that gift cards fulfill the true intention of what a gift should be. Sure there’s some cases where giving a gift card is really the only way to ensure that the person gets what they truly need, but in that case I’d rather just let them get that item on their own. Many gift cards expire after a certain amount of time passing with out use. Some states have laws which prevent this practice, but even in those cases there is a service fee charged for the time passed where the card is not used. On top of everything else, it’s important to take the recent change in our economy into consideration and look at a companies future. No one wants a gift card to a store who has gone out of business. Recently I had an email passed onto me from a friend which really opened my eyes to this.

Here’s a heads up in case you intend to give gift cards around the holidays. Be careful that the cards will be honored after the holidays. Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards will be worthless January 1. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as ‘Bankruptcy Planning). So take a look at this partial list of stores that you should be cautious about.

Read more

Nearly a year ago I signed up for a beta of a new web browser for my phone. Everyone makes a really big deal about the iPhone’s browser, but this application looked to me like it could potentially be as good or better. Recently I finally got the text message I had been waiting for. It was an official invitation to download the Skyfire beta. I was psyched! So I download Skyfire & let the beta testing begin. On first loading I remember one of the reasons I was so excited about this browser; it’s fast! It actually runs the website content through an off sight server and sends a “down res’d” (squeezed) version to your phone. That’s great, this allows your phone to give a full web experience while leaving the “heavy lifting” to be done by a more powerful computer. I suppose this brings up concerns of who else is seeing what you are, but as long as you’re at least aware of this you can use the program accordingly.

One of the main features which brought me to find this program was it’s native flash support. Once I had downloaded and installed the program I headed over to YouTube and was greeted with the full web version including videos that played right from the website without using any sort of external playe. There’s still lots more testing to be done, but this is quite a nice program. If you have a Windows Mobile phone I would highly recommend checking out this great piece of software.

Link: Check out Skyfire

The news stopped really accurately telling the “news” a long time ago in favor of stories that draw more viewers and generate more profit. Most people know that, or at least they should. I actually wrote three papers on this topic over a few years in college (totaling 35 pages of research papers). My first paper presented the background on two topics; Mass Media, and the Public Perception. In my second year I further explored the relationship of one on the other and wrote a paper entitled “The Mass Media & its Effects on Public Perceptions.” In my last semester, it was time again for the presidential election 2004. So I added the election into the paper, writing a paper entitled “The Mass Media & its Effects on Public Perceptions of the Electoral Process.” The other day, for the first time since writing these papers four years ago, I saw something that threw me right back into my research. You see it pictured to the to the right. What really struck me about this store window billboard was what it was making the election into. It would seem that the election has become nothing more then a game. It has become more important to sell cups of coffee bearing the name of “your candidate” then it is to choose the right person to run our country for the next four years.

Now, it just so happens that I don’t intend to vote for either one of these mainstream candidates, so seeing these cups portraying only two choices only makes me angrier. I urge people to try and see past the illusion of two choices. While I realize that one of these two candidates will win, I see past this. I think it’s extremely important to consider other options. Most people get their information exclusively form TV, radio, or the internet. All of these sources favor only two choices, and it seems to me, to be driven by ratings. It’s like turning the process by which we elect our government into the equivalent of a baseball game. Think about it, how different is the argument of McCain vs. Obama from The Red Sox vs. The Yankees?

For about 4 years now I’ve been posting images onto my website. It’s really not that hard to do, and I really love having access to photos anywhere in the world! It’s really pretty easy to set up too so here’s some tips on how to get started.

Personally, I’d recommend checking out Google’s Picasa. It’s really easy to use program for simple photo editing such as red eye, contrast, or brightness adjustments. It’s also the easiest way I’ve found to manages my albums, & it can export smaller versions of photos. When necessary I use Photoshop to make more complex image edits. Once the images have been shrunk, I run them trough jAlbum to create the web album. (It’s not as hard as it all might sound.) I just tell jAlbum where my photos are located and where I want the finished product to go. I specify what skin I want to use, hit go. Then I get up and go make a sandwich. By the time I get back to the computer, everything’s done. I may actually over-complicate the process, because jAlbum might actually have a feature to automatically shrink your images down, I’ve just never looked.

Once everything is created it is all output into a new directory on your computer. You can simply take the contents of that folder and upload them to your website. Most web space providers will tell your ftp address, but it usually “”. Input your ftp address into the destination and set the source as your newly created album folder, and start the transfer. There’s tons of free ftp programs out there to make this easy. If you can’t find one you can even use internet explorer. just navigate to “”, and drag the files from your new album folder to the internet explorer window.

Here’s how it all looks when your done. I’ve used an XP theme so it looks like you’re browsing through a folder on a Windows PC. I know It’s not the most visually appealing look, but it accomplishes what I want it to. jAlbum does have a number of skins available to customize how it looks of your website.