Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Month: November 2006 (page 1 of 2)

Mazie Conquers Stairs

Lately most of the news on the Mazie front has been about new words. Lot’s of new words. She can usually get her point across now, at least to Mom and Dad, and she’s picking up new words faster and faster.

However, a couple of days ago she made it down both flights of stairs in our house without any help. Obviously Mom and Dad are surrounding her with hands ready to grab her if she falls. She’s really careful, and braces herself to the wall but makes it pretty solidly down each stair — one step at a time.

She’s a long ways from navigating steps without help, but she sure does have fun walking down them. She gives a triumphant giggle when she finishes all the steps.

Singing the A-B-C song backwards. (Wait for the 3rd verse…) Try it. It’s harder than you would think.

This skill courtesy Ralph’s World.

Migrating .Text to WordPress

I recently bit the bullet and migrated my ancient DotText (.Text) blog to WordPress. It wasn’t painless, and involved writing some code, but I’m exceedingly happy with WordPress and finally feel like I’m on a modern blogging platform again.

I considered for months and months (years?) going to Community Server (CS), which is the natural descendant of DotText, but it just didn’t make sense. CS really serves a different purpose, and WordPress is so well designed for the task at hand.

Before starting on this adventure, you may want to take a moment to increase your script timeout value for PHP to something exceedingly long. Some of the import PHP scripts will run for a couple of minutes (if you have hundreds of posts) and you don’t want them killed in the middle. Change this in your php.ini.

Migrating Posts

This is actually pretty easy. There is no DotText importer for WordPress, so you have to resort to the lowest common denominator, RSS. WordPress has an importer that will take an RSS feed in a file and import the posts. The first step though is getting all of your posts in an RSS formatted XML file.

Continue reading

Wii Meets the Family

Releasing the Wii shortly before Thanksgiving was a brilliant move by Nintendo. I’m sure thousands of Wii’s accompanied their proud owners on Thanksgiving trips to relatives houses where they were quickly added to the wishlists of others.

I brought mine to the Olson family thanksgiving morning and 3 hours of game play quickly swept by. Kudos to Nintendo for making a game that people in their early 20s enjoy, as well as those in their early 60s. The Wii was a huge hit with everyone taking turns playing Wii Sports.

Prediction: The Wii is going to dominate the console market in units sold by a factor of 2 on it’s nearest rival.

I had my telescope out for about an hour tonight and sadly I still feel like a complete “noob” using it. I just did a quick Alt-Az mount, skipping “the wedge” but wasn’t able to get a good alignment.

It wasn’t a complete waste though. I got to do some great up close viewing of the moon.

The Kindness of Strangers

So, you don’t just walk into a store and get a Wii on the very day it comes out. This morning just before 8am Tammy suggested we should run to Target and check things out. We got there just after 8 and there was clearly a crowd present. Upon entering the store our hopes were dashed. There were well over 100 people in line and they had given out tickets to those that had been camped out all night.

No ticket, no Wii. There were 80 tickets, plus more people that didn’t have tickets and a miserly 60 Wii’s in stock to sell.
As we were standing at the end of the line, my hopes dashed, this scruffy dude said “You need a ticket?” “Yeah,” Tammy quickly replied. He handed over one of the tickets, and not just any ticket, it was ticket #9!

Moral Dilema

Now, here we are with Ticket #9. We didn’t do much of anything for this other than respond to a guy that obviously looked like he had spent the whole night outside. Dozens of people further ahead in line had just watched this guy walk buy and not responded to his query. He wasn’t being shy that he had an extra one. Do we take it and get a Wii?

You bet we do. :-) Wasn’t that hard to get over. We went right up to the front of the line and they were taking anyone with tickets less than 17. We inserted at the front with our stuff and were on our way, Wii in hand.

Thank you kind anonymous dude with an extra ticket. Wish I could have given him something, some cash or anything. I have no idea how he had an extra ticket. Perhaps a friend of his camped in line just for fun? Or maybe they forgot to take it from him? Who knows…

I’m curious — would you have done the same? Or would the boy scout in you kept you from getting such unearned gains?

Wii In The House!

Wii is in the house! Yeah!

Nintendo Wii

Okay, so it only took about a week for me to turn into a total fanboy in regards to the Wii. Really, I became a bit obsessed with it. (This is when the folks that know me pretty good shake their heads back and forth.) Alright, enough about me, how about the Wii?

I played with it for a little bit today and the most impressive thing is the controller. The “free motion” moves are pretty amazing and bring you into the gameplay in a way that no other game system ever has. Tammy and I spent the first hour with the game just playing the included Wii Sports. Tennis, boxing, even bowling are pretty fun and the motions are life like.

Tonight I spent a bit of time with Madden 07 and again the motions of the controller made the gameplay so much cooler. To pass the ball, you throw your hand. To kick, you swing your arm. Very nice.

I got Zelda, Madden and Rayman with the unit. Haven’t played Zelda yet, saving that for when there is more time. First impression of the Wii — it’s a winner.

PS – The order that Tammy placed got canceled. They apparently didn’t have enough units.

Good Spam Filtering for Home

I’ve started to get deluged with spam again at home. The last time this happened I decided to switch my email address — a little “shake and bake” as it were with due credit to Talladega Nights. At work I’ve been using Postini for years now and I’m a huge fan. They do an amazing job of handling spam and viruses — both of which I had nothing to stop at home.

I would have loved to use Postini but they don’t offer individual accounts, boo! However, they do have resellers. Some quick searches and I found a Postini reseller that set me up for $2.50/month per address. They got me setup very quickly and now I’m a much happier email recipient.

PS3 and Wii Bananza

My friend Chad brought over his brand new Playstation 3 today and I got my first taste of the hardcore gamer dream machine. The graphics are stunning, particularly when paired with a nice high-end HDTV. The games were obviously first generation and I’m sure they will get progressively better over the coming months. However, not my kind of gaming system. Very focused on first-person shooter type games.

On the Wii front, Tammy decided that I had become enough of a “fanboy” over the Wii lately that she ordered me one. I’m hoping it will be here before Thanksgiving for some family fun waving the Wii controller around in the air.

Threat Level Orange

I just got home from another business trip. I seem to be in the middle of another spat of business travel with all the requisite fun of airports, flights, taxis, rental cars and hotels.

As I drove to the airport for this trip I noted the electronic sign at the entrance of the airport proclaiming:

Threat Level Orange

I have to ask, what good is this? What in the world is this supposed to do to make my life better? Really. Let’s think about this. My reaction to the blazing orange threat level was essentially as follows:

  1. Is orange bad? What is really bad? Orange sounds horrible. Does this mean my plane is going to explode?
  2. What caused the threat level to be orange? Is there a global terrorism plot targeting the Minneapolis airport on the day I’m flying? Did some high school kid threaten to explode football stadiums?
  3. At what threat level do I not fly? Seriously. If this is supposed to inform me and make me more educated, when do I turn around and go home. Maybe orange? I’m going home, I don’t want to die.
  4. This is stupid.

So I’m back to the beginning, what is the point? Other than making me feel nervous, slightly anxious, remind me that if I’m lucky enough to win the lottery I might have a terrorist incident in the airport. The only real impact this blazing “Threat Level Orange” had on me was to reinforce a low level of fear that is propogated by a variety of government and non-government agencies.

150-hsas.gifI decided to visit the Department of Homeland Security website and find out what these levels really were. The image to the right is from the DHS website. I love the names. I’ve never, ever, seen green. That really makes sense after all, when are you ever safe. Someone may be stalking you right now, and yes, your plane may blow up. Be afraid, very afraid. Guarded is great. Blue doesn’t make intuitive sense to me on this scale, but I’ll leave that for now. Be guarded, don’t trust those strangers. Then there is the issue of the scale as a whole, is it really linear with these equal bands? It would seem to me that the way a scale like this should work, if it should even exist, is that from 0 to 60 it’s low. In essence, the vast majority of the time. And 61 to 80 is guarded. An exponential, not linear, scale.

Since I cannot determine any value provided to me from this wonderful service other than fear it just strikes me as very Orwellian. What better way to keep people under control than constantly remind them of things that are statistically irrelevant.


I just went to the DHS website and it looks like the threat level may now be yellow!


Or not? I love this graphic. The top says the threat level is ELEVATED (note the all caps, it’s important) and the yellow bar is highlighted. Then the text says it is HIGH. Turns out that they are just telling us that there is a “significant risk of terrorist attacks” in general, and that in the airlines there is a “high risk of terrorist attacks”. It’s confusing to say the least, but make sure you stay scared.

Watch out!

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