thingelstad

Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Month: December 2006 (page 1 of 2)

Weather is freaking me out

Alright, the weather is really starting to bother me. Today, December 30th it was 41 degrees while we were driving around this afternoon and it was raining. This wasn’t a “normal” winter rain. This rain felt like April showers. Nice big drops with a regular patter on the street. It’s December! Where is the snow!?

I realize talking about the weather is so very Minnesotan of me. The faithful readers of this website probably care about my weather as much as what I had for lunch. But I must comment anyway.

I read a great article in last issue of The Week about depression rates being high in Moscow because there was no snow! This is the warmest winter ever for Moscow and the days are so short that the lack of the snows reflective qualities results in their rarely being any light.

What in the world is going on here. Take a look at December with this graph.

temp-december-2006

For the whole month of December the weather has just hovered in these ridiculously high ranges, barely dipping below freezing at night.

Enough already, let’s get some snow!

We Love the Wii

I’ve been wanting to use that headline for a while now. ;-)

The Wii made the trip to North Dakota for Christmas. I wasn’t planning on taking it but then some of my cousins got wind that I had one of these prized units and suggested I bring it. It was a huge hit. The little Wii served over 9 hours of playtime on December 25th — by far the longest workout it has ever gotten.

It’s really amazing to watch people that never have any interest in video games playing a Wii and liking it so much. Wii Sports, the free “in box” game was the biggest hit of the day. The fact that it requires no experience to play, you just pick it up and go, makes it a big winner with people that are just getting acquainted with the Wii and it’s free motion controls. We even made a number of Mii’s for some of my relatives and everyone had a blast making them look as close to the person as they could.

I also scored two new games for my Wii: Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz and Red Steel. I only played a few minutes of Super Monkey Ball myself hitting a few of the party games. The game has a lot of promise. i played Red Steel for about 20 minutes and it was pretty good. I’m not a fan of most first-person shooters, but this was actually controllable and again the free motion controls made it easy to work with.

In other Wii related news I grabbed the preview of the Internet Channel for it. I was really impressed with it. First off, Nintendo did the right thing by not making their own and getting Opera to build a Wii version. Secondly, the speed is much better than I expected. I’ve always felt the “Internet” features on the Wii were really slow, but it must be something on the Nintendo side since the browser itself was very usable. It even plays flash video, making it a great YouTube surfing station.

Merry Christmas 2006

Tammy, Mazie and I all want to take a moment to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a great holiday season. You have possibly been checking your mailboxes eager to open the 2nd annual Thingelstad Christmas letter. The anticipation has been high, everyday eagerly looking forward to that postal delivery, only to be let down.

Well, unfortunately the post office isn’t to blame but instead we are. We never got it done. We held out hopes for a last minute “hail Mary” letter to be produced but it never happened. You can stop checking your mailbox with vigor and jeering at your postal carrier for not bringing you the letter. It isn’t coming.

Keep your eyes out however for a 2nd semi-annual Thingelstad Christmas letter in 2007. From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Cha-Ching

piggy.pngThe other night while catching up on my RSS feeds in Reader I stumbled upon a small software project for the Mac called Cha-Ching. Cha-Ching is a product from Midnight Apps that intends to take on the personal finance heavyweights like Quicken. It’s not open source, but it reminds me of Firefox finally providing real competition for the lagging Internet Explorer 6.0 and pushing innovation in the market, and this is a market that needs innovation.

Cha-Ching is far from being able to supplant Quicken, but it’s sleek and well done. It feels enjoyable to use, and at only version 0.4 there is much to hope for. My hopes are with the Midnight Apps crew to build a product that will have elegance and simplicity, with rich and powerful features.

Traineo

traineoWhile reading TechCrunch about a week ago I saw a headline about a “web 2.0″ community-centric fitness site called Traineo. This hit all my hot buttons since the “geekery” sounded cool and I’m looking for something to help me along my path to getting smaller again. A couple of days later I finally got to the site, signed on and I’ve been really impressed. I’ve decided to start using this to track my fitness progress instead of my decade-plus venerable Lifeform software. Lifeform is still the best food logging software I’ve ever seen, but the rest of it I can do it Traineo easier and it’s a service with community.

Traineo provides some buttons for you to put on your site and such, you will see one on my site showing my progress towards my weight goal. Of the features that I particularly like is the motivator system where you pick four people that will get weekly reports on your progress.

I’m gushing a bit, the service isn’t perfect and I hope to see it improve significantly, but so far I’m really enjoying it. Check out my profile on Traineo. If you’ve been looking for a site to help you with your fitness goals and connect with a community, this is the place to go.

Operation Junk Mail

I’ve decided enough is enough. Perhaps it’s just the holiday season, but our mailbox has been overloaded with mail order catalogs. Sometimes as many as ten a day. It’s insane! I’ve decided to declare a War on Catalogs!

I’ve had good success so far. I’m going to the website of every company that we get a catalog for and submitting a customer service request. So far most are responding promptly. I’m keeping a list of who I contact, when and any relevant tracking numbers so I can escalate if I need to.

Hopefully our recycling will go down, our mail carrier will be happier, and we’ll have less junk thrown in our face to buy.

Wii Component Cables

My component cables arrived for the Wii today. I finally was able to move off the incredibly lame composite connection and 480i to a nice crisp component connection and 480p. I know that this is a much better setup, and I eagerly plugged it in and decided to get my camera out and do some before/after comparisons. While I can tell the difference, it’s not as striking as I expected.

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Mazie’s Kitchen

I got to play Super Dad today and put together Mazie’s christmas present. December 3rd? Sure — she’s 18 months old — it’s Christmas! :-)

Tammy and I got her a “kitchen thing” for Christmas and have coordinated with her Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and other relatives to get presents that go along with it.

The kitchen came in 4 boxes, with lots of assembly required. Just a bunch of peices of wood. Tammy suggested that she put it together while I was in NY last week. I thought about that for a moment, and I didn’t like it. Assembling the “assembly required” Christmas present is a Dad job for sure — and I didn’t want to be deprived of my fatherhood rights.

I got a bit frustrated at the beginning. Not too frustrated though, I’m pretty sure my language was clean the entire time. I put every joint together with added wood glue. This thing will be around for generations to come. She is having fun with it and it will be nice for her to get her pots and pans and other accessories to go with it.

Butter Bakery

Tammy and I checked out a new restaurant this weekend. Butter Bakery is in south Minneapolis and serves a brunch menu as well as traditional baked goods and coffee. We had lunch there on Saturday and the food was so good we returned for breakfast on Sunday.

The bakery items are all great. However, most notable was the pancakes. I have no idea what they do to their pancakes but they are amazing. They are gooey, and incredibly flavorful. Go there, and get some pancakes!

USB Drive Roundup

At the end of August I picked up a new USB thumb drive that would perform at a pace capable of running applications. I got the OCZ Rally2 2G drive and was very happy with it. One of the only deficiencies of the drive was that there was no way to attach a strap to it, and that proved fatal. On a business trip a couple of weeks ago I lost it. Huge bummer. I also lost a bunch of data that wasn’t recently backed up. Bummer ^ 2.

I went on the hunt for a replacement and decided to try some non-traditional form factors. I was happy with OCZ, and they had some good rebate deals on NewEgg so I ordered up a variety. I got the OCZ Rally2 4G, Mini-Kart 2G and Roadster 1G.

The drives fit a bunch of different sizes and use cases (pictured here with a quarter for comparison).

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