Friday, July 29, 2005

URL (and 23 other letters, too)

Back in April, J-Walk posted his Alphabet URLs. To make my own list, I typed each letter of the alphabet into my browser address bar, then copied the first autosuggested URL.

I was going to post this back when I first saw it, but at that time, my browser was configured to delete old URLs from the cache after like 3 days or something. I changed it to 365 days to try and build up the list a little. Here now are the current results!

A is for - I often look up information on AllMusic when I want to find out who did a certain song or which album it appears on, who covered it or about a bajillion other details.

B is for - Natch.

C is for - Other than Google News, CNN is where I've been getting my morning news. I used to visit Drudge, but between the popups (even using Firefox) and the headlines screaming at me, I decided to look for something a little less frantic.

D is for - I frequently visit/add to/edit my personal bookmarks. At first I really was kind of underwhelmed by, but the more I use it, the more I like it and see the advantages.

E is for - I check Info Nation traffic with Extreme Tracking, or as they call it eXTReMe Tracking (which is eXTReMe I guess because of its rANdoMIzeD cApiTAliZatIOn!!!)

F is for - Not only do I use Flickr for hosting the pics on this blog, it's sometimes interesting to randomly nose around either by artist or by tags.

G is for - I know, not exactly earthshaking.

H is for - I think I haven't visited here since the big debut back in May. Does anyone still read The Huffington Post?

I is for - Surprise.

J is for - A co-worker built a little local weather radar aggregator which I sometimes visit.

K is for - Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools always has great reviews of useful tools of all types.

L is for - Lakenet is the shared catalog of public libraries in West Michigan who are members of the Lakeland Library Cooperative. Lakeland member libraries are located in 8 counties, all of Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo and Montcalm counties and parts of Barry, Ionia, and Allegan counties.

M is for - I check my Yahoo! mail account from time to time.

N is for Google News is probably my current favorite news site.

O is for - Oishii checks every 5 minutes to see what sites people are bookmarking at If the site has been bookmarked by 30 or more people, it gets posted at Oishii. People ask where I find some of the off-the-wall sites I find. Many times, it's because I discovered it through here.

P is for - One of my favorite blogs for link hijackage.

Q is for - I think I took a quiz a while back on "What Is Your World View?"

R is for - ReelRadio has lots of archived radio stuff going way way back. Sometimes when I get sentimental for the radio I grew up with (WLS 890 AM out of Chicago in the 70's and 80's) I'll go locate a Larry Lujack "Animal Stories" or a John Records Landecker "Boogie Check" for a blast from my past.

S is for - Yep. Geek.

T is for - When I just gotta know who's been linking to me.

U is for - Mostly to help me remember what my ZIP + 4 is, since I seem doomed to forget it everytime I want it...

V is for - The Vs were a little light in content. Vadercoaster and all sites in general are little one-joke sites with repeating graphics and/or audio. Their stupid history is found here.

W is for - Ex-Star Trek:TNG crewmember Wesley Crusher turned blogger/author/poker player Wil Wheaton's blog. A daily read.

X is for - Whah? I visited here? No recollection.

Y is for - Huh. I very rarely visit Yahoo! itself apart from getting mail.

Z is for - PC casemods. Like I said. Geek.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tips for Teens

Lots and lots of shortcuts, secrets and tips can be found at Tricks of the Trade. A few examples:

  • Before resealing a can of paint, blow one deep breath into the can and close it quickly. You'll fill it with carbon dioxide, which will keep the paint from oxidizing prevent it from developing the "skin" that paint gets when it sits a while.

  • When ordering a "custom" sandwich from a deli, Subway, or college cafeteria, say the name of each ingredient with a air of finality, as though it will be the last ingredient on your sandwich. The sandwich-maker will pile plenty of the stuff on, trying to fill your sandwich to a respectable size, not realizing you intend to ask for more ingredients.

  • When caulking around the top of a bathtub, first fill it with water. The weight of the water will lower the tub and widen the gap to be caulked, giving you a lasting and complete seal. If you don't then the next time you fill the tub with water a gap will appear below your caulk line, allowing water to get behind the wall and damage the substructure.

Buried somewhere in the archives there was also a link on how to start a fire with a Coke can and a chocolate bar.

If you have your own secrets, you can submit them to the site yourself.

I thought "Halfway House" meant something else entirely

Slate has an article on that amusing TV ad for GEICO car insurance. It appears to be an ad for a new reality-TV show called Tiny House, in which a young couple has to live in the midget-sized dwelling for one year. I do recall being fooled the first time I saw the commercial, too. (you can see the ad by clicking here, then clicking the What We've Done link, then click on the GEICO logo on the right.

The article also explains why some GEICO ads such as this one and the "Caveman" spots are funny while some are pretty lame.


(via Sciatica)

I need phrenology like I need a lump on my head

Okay, so maybe facial recognition software doesn't do so well at predicting personality (see previous post). What about some of those other hoary standbys?

petepuma190 horis-lumps-large

There's a couple of 'em. Phrenology (your personality can be mapped from the shape of your head), and graphology (your personality can be mapped from your handwriting style).

Phrenology or Is That A Lump On Your Head Or Do You Just Have A Pronounced Metaphysical Perspicuity Organ?

The Straight Dope answers 'Is handwriting analysis legit?'

Take this ridiculously detailed fifty-step(!) handwriting analysis test.

My results are posted below, which read pretty much like a horoscope, ie. vague one-size-fits-all claptrap that anyone can see a little of themselves in. Except, that is, for my extreme need for freedom, apparently. Hey, is this room getting smaller!? I gotta get outta here...


Motivating Forces

captnkurt has the emotional independence to act on his own when necessary, as long as he feels comfortable with what he is doing. He is also able to take direction. His overpowering need for freedom can make it difficult to sustain long-term relationships, no matter how much he wants the good things that go with them. He simply must be free to do what he needs to do, and too many close, personal ties make that difficult. An easygoing, casual sort of person, when conflict is brewing, he immediately seeks ways to affect a compromise. His need for material and financial security is about average. What this means is, he works to take care of his needs and those of his family, but is not so driven that he make security his sole focus.
Ego Strength

It's not an easy choice for captnkurt to make, but there may be times when he will bend his principles to some degree. More than likely, those times will be when he is feeling under pressure from his social group, and his conscience will probably suffer for it. A sense of personal pride gives him all the reward he needs. Having taken to heart the lessons that experience has taught him and put them into practice, he has developed a pleasant symmetry and poise in his personality. Instead of being crushed by mistakes or disagreeable events in his life, captnkurt uses them as building blocks to increase his self-confidence and dignity. With strong self-esteem, he doesn't allow others to set standards for him. He sets and lives up to his own expectations. It's not within his nature to cave in to temptation without a fight. He has sufficient willpower to stand firm in his views, even when faced with strong opposition, if he believes he is right.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Facing Facts

Do you wonder why you're always the one getting pulled aside in airports for additional questioning, being asked to remove your shoes, empty your suitcase and prepare for the full body cavity search? No offense, but maybe it's your face, pal.

Submit a pic to Faceanalyzer and it will, uh, you know, like analyze your face and stuff. It claims to have an 87% success rate at identifying your ethnicity, but dances around how it figures out and how well it does on the other characteristics it extracts such as:

  • Intelligence
  • Risk
  • Ambition
  • Income
  • Gay Factor (No, really)
  • Sociability
  • Politeness
  • Honor
  • Promiscuity

The website also gives you a Celebmatch. Basically they tell you which celebrity you look like. Okay, sure.

I'm here looking for a picture of me on my computer and I realize I don't have one. Crap. I've got a few of some friends and co-workers, but I don't know how they'd appreciate me using their pics. Hmmm, what to do?

In an inspired moment I came up with the following compromise: I'll post the following picture of Sir Elton John
and see what the ole' Faceanalyzer deduces about him.

The result? Behold the mighty power of Faceanalyzer!

Looking at the data, we can see that Elton John is probably Anglo-Saxon in race. (I'm guessing that means they're saying it's a 53% chance he's Anglo) Or mmmayyyybe Chinese (31%). Sheesh, it's Elton John, not El Dung Yong. Go with your first instinct, Faceanalyzer. I guess I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Okay, so let's see what other things we can find out. Here are the characteristics, Faceanalyzer's definition of the characteristic and how they match up with what we know about Mister Yellow Brick Road. Ready?

Intelligence is a general mental capability that involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, and comprehend ideas and language.
Score: 3.6 (out of 10) - Low Intelligence
Verdict: Doubtful
I can't speak directly to Elton John's intelligence, but I do note that he was awarded a scholarship at age 11 to the Royal Academy of Music.

The higher the risk the more an individual will partake in actions that can result in harm either socially, physically or financially. Gambling and fighting are some examples of risky behavior.
Score: 6.7 (out of 10) - High Risk
Verdict: Maybe
Elton John as a risk-taker not maybe so much in the sense of he's out there jumping buses on a motorcycle, but it was a risky move revealing his homosexuality in 1976 at the height of his musical career to Rolling Stone magazine.

Ambition is the desire for achieving material success and the willingness to strive for its attainment. Ambitious people tend to strive for power, honor, fame, and wealth.
Score: 3.8 (out of 10) - Low Ambition
Verdict: No way
Yeah, right. One of the most consistent hitmakers of the 1970s and 80s, with a housefulla platinum albums who continues to earn heaping gobs of cash each time another celebrity dies and he gets to drag out "Candle In The Wind" yet again... yeah, all he really wanted to do was lay on the couch, scarf Cheetos and try and get to the secret Castle level of Super Mario World.

Gay Factor
Gay Factor is a sexual orientation characterized by sexual desire exclusively, or almost exclusively, for people who are identified as being of the same sex.
Score: 1.6 (out of 10) - Very Low Gay Factor
Verdict: Come on
Yep, they pegged this one. There's no way that Elton John is gay. Way to call it, Faceanalyzer!

Honor constitutes the reputation, self-perception, and moral identity of the individual and of his/her group. Honorable people value self-respect and will strive to maintain their and their group's integrity.
Score: 5.0 (out of 10) - Average Honor
Verdict: Unknown
I got nothin'. You win this one by default, Faceanalyzer.

Politeness is the practical application of good manners or etiquette.
Score 3.8 (out of 10) - Low Politeness
Verdict: Score one for Faceanalyzer.
Elton John calls Taiwan cameramen 'rude, vile pigs'
Elton John takes swipe at Madonna
Reggie's Little Moments

Income is the expected average annual income throughout the adult lifetime.
Score 3.8 (out of 10) - $10,000-$30,000 per year
Verdict: Just missed this one...
Elton John only earned a little over $7,000 in 2004. However, that was per hour. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week over the 52 weeks, when he topped the list of British star earners for 2004, beating out The Rolling Stones and pulling in $62 million.

Sociability is the extrovertedness of an individual. Sociable people tend to be less fearful of the outcome of interacting with others and more willing to engage others.
Score 5.3 (out of 10) - Average Sociability
Verdict: Unknown
I mean, it's possible to have a flamboyant on-stage persona and be very shy off-stage. Google turns up quite a few hits for Elton John shy. Plus there's this nugget from that beacon of hard-hitting celebrity journalism, 16 Magazine, August 1975.

Promiscuity is the practice of making unselective, casual and spontaneous sexual choices. This means that the individual engages in multiple and simultaneous sexual relationships.
Score 3.2 (out of 10) - Low Promiscuity
Verdict: Seems to be correct
Since he's getting married this December to long-time partner David Furnish, let's hope so.

And lastly, the piece de resistance, the fables CelebMatcher. Gee, what celebrity does this Reginald Dwight guy kinda look like?

Hmmm. Oh, hey! I know!


(via WFMU's Beware of the Blog)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dude, where's my (flying) car?

I've pretty much given up ever having a flying car. While they used to be routinely paraded out as the "Car of the Future!" back in the 50s and 60s, reality has since taken hold. The idea of road-rage at 200 feet and people fly-driving around drunk and/or high and/or while trying to talk on a cell phone while playing on the Pocket PC pretty much put a damper on that whole Buck Rogers fantasy. Enough people act like morons enough when they're on the ground. I don't need them over my head, too.

So no flying cars. What then?

Well, those JohnnyCabs from the semi-craptastical Total Recall Ah-nuld movie seemed kinda neat.

When are those things gonna be here?

Turns out they are. Sort of. Introducing SkyWeb Express.

Not yet in production anywhere, but they are looking for some developers. Like the JohnnyCab from the movie, these are small urban computer-driven transports. Unlike the movie, they don't have a creepy ventriloquist dummy-gone-bad-looking driver. The computer would plan the most efficient route to your destination and use proximity-detection to keep other cars a safe distance away.

The cars would be wheelchair- and bike-accessible and hold 3-4 people (or maybe less if you've been saying "Supersize Me!" a little too often lately). Because the loading platforms would be off the main line, supposedly you would never have to wait for a car; they would be waiting for you.

There are claims of energy and time savings and the like on the website. Other questions concerning power and rider safety are answered in their FAQ.

For the broadbanded, there are little 3-minute video demos done in a nice 1950s retro style (in either Windows Media Player or Real Player)

So that's who that was

I was watching the Almost Famous DVD the other night and I was once again puzzled by a little scene in there. William has arrived at the Riot House hotel and walks past a room where there is a man with a guitar playing and a woman singing along. They are both in profile so it's kind of hard to see them and no names are mentioned. They're just singing this cool song.

After a little detective work, I found out the deal. The two people in the movie are Pete Droge and Elaine Summers, but they're supposed to be playing Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.

That particular scene was originally longer and explained itself a little better, but was shortened due to time constraints. Director Cameron Crowe talks about it in an interview with Film Comment from 2000.

Speaking of Gram Parsons, did you know when he died in 1973, his friends posed as hearse drivers, stole his body and took it out to the desert and burned it? The whole bizarre story is at The Strange Death of Gram Parsons.

More Famous trivia at Crowe's The Uncool site.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

There! Did you hear something?!

According to the site, THE MIND MOLESTER
is an electronic chirping device that can drive your victims nuts trying to figure out what it is and where it’s at. You can drive someone crazy in their own house or disrupt an entire office. Your victim(s) will become obsessed, awaiting the next chirp to try to determine its location, completely disrupting their normal activities. Just connect this device to a 9-volt battery and plant it in an appropriate location. The “Mind Molester” produces a one-second electronic chirp about once every 4 minutes. Due to the chirp’s duration, frequency, and sound characteristics, it’s a very, very difficult, time-consuming, frustrating and maddening task to locate the unit.

The device looks something like this
and sells for a hefty $75(!) Uh, dang. You gotta really be committed to your practical joking to drop most of a C-Note for some random chirping.

Bargain hunters, I think I can beat that! Now for a limited time only, save your $75, stop by Information Nation Headquarters and pick up this little Mind Molester, gratis.
But you're gonna have to find him first. Ssshh! Wait! I just heard him over there! Behind the couch, maybe?!

(via everlasting blort)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Mi a baldhead

Though I like reggae music for the most part, I really have no clue what they're saying or mean half the time. Just looking at Bob Marley's songlist, for example... Duppy Conqueror? Crazy Baldheads? So Jah Seh? Easy Skanking? Huh? Overall, Marley is pretty light on the Patois compared to some.

If you think you've got an ear for Patois, try this little quiz I culled from the USA to Jamaican Translation page...

Match these phrases with its Jamaican equivalent: (answers below)

1) Why are you squeezing the mangoes like that?

2) Aren't those pants a bit short?

3) He has no manners.

4) She has a bit of an overbite.

5) Get me a pop please.

a) Yuh did a expect flood ar yuh tek yuh measurement inna wata?

b) Lissen mi nuh, mi a beg yuh stap fingle-fingle up di mango dem.

c) Beg yuh carry wan aerated wata fi mi deh.

d) Gyal fayva buckteet Ida.

e) Im noh have noh broughtupsy!

I can see that parsing Jamaican Patois through these Michigan ears is going to take some work. Thankfully, there are lots of resources, such as:

Jamaica Glossary
Speak Jamaican
Another glossary of Jamaican words and slang
Talk Jamaican (with audio examples)
Yet another glossary
Patois sound clips

Answers to the quiz

Oh yeah. Duppy = Ghost, Baldheads = People without dreadlocks (usually meaning white people), So Jah Seh = As Jah Says (Jah = Rastafari name for God), Skanking = Dancing to reggae music

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Don't be a rube, get on the trolley!

He's not just some guy, Marge! He's a Carny and part of a noble tradition. Carnies built this country-the carnival part of it anyway -- and though they may be rat-like in appearance, they are truly kings among men.

-- Homer on carnies, "Bart Carny"

Wanna know how to work the bally, build and turn the tip, start a jam and do the blowoff?? An exhaustive glossary of Carny Lingo. Scroll down a bit to find a "The Bally", a great example of how carnival barkers do what they do best: relieving you of your money. My only beef is that the font is pretty annoying and hard-to-read.

Boing Boing recently posted a link to a different Carny Lingo site, but aside for being easier to read, it has far fewer entries and examples.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

See the world, one couch at a time


Love to travel, but hate staying in (or paying for) hotels? Too old for a youth hostel? Like to meet new people? Don't mind sleeping on a couch?

CouchSurfing might be right up your alley! From their CouchSurfing FAQ:

What is Couch Surfing? helps you make connections worldwide. You can use the network to meet people and then go and surf other members' couches! When you surf a couch, you are a guest at someone's house. They will provide you with some sort of accommodation, a penthouse apartment or maybe a back yard to pitch your tent in. As a member, you can communicate with other members all over the world and see if there is a person in the place that you'd like to go who is willing to host you. Stays can be as short as a cup of coffee, a night or two, or even a few months or more. The possibilities are endless and completely up to you.

As you might expect, there are a smaller number of CouchSurfers in the more exotic locales, a pretty large group (1,000+) in the U.K. and and Australia, and a whole bunch (about 7,000) scattered throughout the US. There are even a few CouchSurfers in Afghanistan and Iraq, but maybe you don't want that much excitement on your vacation.

But is this safe???
This is one of our most commonly asked questions. We like to answer this in a couple ways. First, not just anyone can become a vouched for OR verified member. All new prospective members can only become vouched for if they are referred by an existing already vouched for member (or if they meet a member and get vouched for after signing up). Every user is linked to the other users he/she knows in the system through a network of References and Friend Links. These features help other users determine how trustworthy you are, based on the quantity and 'quality' of the people you know and also if you've been vouched for.
This icon indicates that a member has been verified to level 3.

This icon indicates that a member has been vouched for.

This icon indicates that a member is a CS Ambassador.

Secondly, we offer verification. By verifying you, we check to make sure your name and address are correct via the verification system. Once you are verified, your profile will show that you are verified. Other people viewing your profile may feel safer about communicating with and meeting you because you are verified. Some people choose to ONLY communicate with other verified members. It's all about your own personal preferences and feeling about safety. For some people, verification may not be important. For others, it is crucial. It's up to you.

Get out there and see the planet. Just don't forget to repay the favor if a fellow CouchSurfer visits your neck of the woods.

Monday, July 11, 2005

S'Leven for Ju'Leven

As far as I can tell, the Mother of All Convenience Stores is missing a golden opportunity. Don't you think 7-Eleven should make 7/11 (July 11th here in the States, November 7th most everywhere else) National 7-Eleven Day? If anyone in their Marketing department wants to take this idea and run with it, I'm thinking a little cut for Ol' Captnkurt would be in order. Somewhere between 7-11% sounds about right...

I always assumed (silly me) that the US had the most 7-Elevens, but was I ever wrong. Japan has us out-S'Leven'ed almost two-to-one!

Useless Trivia: The company started in 1927 and the stores were originally operating under the name "Speedee-Mart". Since the hours of operation were from 7am to 11pm, in 1947 the name was officially changed to you-know-what. Of course, now most of the stores are open round-the-clock, which makes me wonder if they have ever considered changing the name to 24-Seven?

I found this intriguing 7-Eleven homepage for Thailand. If your speakers/headphones are on, you'll hear a soothing yet-kinda-catchy jingle sung, I presume, in Thai. The animated banner features the adventures of their mascot, an enormous-headed winking little guy who travels all across the city stopping in various 7-Elevens. Luckily for him, the stores in this city seem to be spaced only about 50 feet apart so his raging addiction to score a Super Big Gulp or a Turbo Dog will never be long denied.

And what's this? Apparently our little large-pated friend is thankful for 7-Elevens so that he can feed his other habit. I have a feeling the little balloon would be translated to "I can even buy the latest porn!"

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I'm not feeling too good. Anyone seen a crate around?

Ask any gamer and they'll tell you there are a cubic buttload of first-person shooter-type game out there, everything from Jedi Knight to Unreal Tournament to Doom to Drakan. And they all have one thing in common: they all have these crates laying all over throughout the game, usually stocked with health points or ammo or other goodies.

Regardless of whether the game is set on a futuristic starcruiser, the front lines of Iwo Jima or a freakin' deserted island, the place always is awash in ginormous crates sometimes towering ten-twelve feet high which end up containing... a clip of ammo weighing maybe what, two pounds tops? And where are all the pallets that these crates came in on?

Going on the assumption that the appearance of the first crate marks the point where the game designer officially ran out of ideas, two guys review 26 games using their soon-to-be-patented Crate Review System.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Friday Freetime Free-for-all

2133 free flash and java games to waste your Friday afternoon with. I am currently trying to solve this nifty puzzle called 11 Somerset.

UPDATE 7/14/05:
Brian notified me that his games site is back up and running after a few days of downtime last week. Thanks, Brian!

UPDATE 7/11/05:
Okay, this is pretty strange... I have had this site bookmarked for almost six months, only remembering to mention it this past Friday. All of a sudden the day after I mention him on Information Nation, when I try the link it is no longer available [cue sinister music - da-da-duuuuuummmmm!]. Going to the root of only brings up this extremely lame list of a few sponsored links to some crappy sites. As Fred Willard's character said in A Mighty Wind, 'Wha' happened?!'

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Mix + Match

Professional photographer Eric Myer has a fun project called Stereotypes. Click on the bottom half of one face and the top half of another to create some interesting/funny/strange results.

Doesn't this one look like Dylan with some gender issues?


(via The Presurfer)

Three point something, I think

Akira Haraguchi, 59 of Tokyo, recited Pi from memory to 83,431 decimal places, nearly twice the previous record of 42,195 set in 1995. According to a BBC News report, Haraguchi lost his place three hours into his first try and had to start over. Last year, he made it to about 54,000 decimal places but had to call it quits when the facility where the event was held closed its doors for the night.

(via Boing Boing)

They say you better listen to the voice of reason

I listen to public radio more than anything else, but not usually while at the computer. It's just not near a radio, and frankly I'm too lazy to hook up anything in here. features program listings for hundreds of public radio stations around the world. Follow the audio links to hear your favorite programs and discover new ones.

Right now I'm listening to a rebroadcast of Fresh Air with Terry Gross on WRVO out of Oswego, NY. Cool.

(via Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Listen up, I got somethin' to say

What your body is trying to tell you, deciphered.

Do you crave butter?
Do you produce excess ear wax?
Does your urine smell like maple syrup? (what are you doing smelling your urine?)

Er, don't mind me, I'll just be over here trying to stretch out my index finger...