EJM Designs Limited Blog

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Motivation: Don't Forget the Wonder!

This past weekend I was on the back porch watching our dog run around and in an adjoining yard heard some kids playing. One of them said "Hey, look at this!" and they crouched down, I'm guessing to look at a bug crawl around on the grass.

And I was beside myself.

Here I was, outside in some pretty nice weather, taking a break from some programming, my head swimming in code, and I suddenly realized that I wasn't paying attention to any of the things around me.

Prompted by the wonder of the children across the way, I looked around and saw the sky, the floating clouds, the trees, and heard the birds. And I was amazed at how alive I felt.

We so often focus so much on what is immediate, on what is "important" that we often forget that there is wonder and discovery as close as our own back yards. As close as walking outside to our cars. As close as now.

Your motivation this week? Step outside your home or office door and take a minute or two to appreciate the wonder of everything that surrounds you every day. It is alive; feel alive with it! Check the nuances of that tree, listen to the birds, and wonder at the sky, that odd miracle of atmosphere and color and clouds that exists way beyond our reach.

Share it with someone. Wonder is a gift we are given at birth and everyone still has it. Some just need to be reminded.

And if you're really into it, squat down and take a look at that bug. It's really pretty interesting. Just ask the kids.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Youtube: Animal Power Moves, Shocked Kitty, Mortal Kombat

Animal Power Moves!

Animal strength in one clever or gross or strange way or another.

The Shocked & Appalled Kitty

It's just shocked and appalled. Nothing more.

Oregon Trail vs. Mortal Kombat

Anyone who grew up with Oregon Trail in any capacity also grew up with MK. Exactly what it sounds like.

And that'll be it for this Friday. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not-so-Useful Tech Gadget: Pasta n More

Pasta N More

Hey kids! It's Pasta N More, your microwave, no-muss, no-fuss pasta-cookin' machine!

We got one as a gift a while back and just opened it yesterday.

But only if you've got the time. I don't know about you, but I can have a pot of water boiling in about 10 minutes or less (salt it, cover it, set on high) and pasta will cook in about 5-7 minutes. That's on the stove. In a pot of water.

Looking at the instructions of Pasta N More, I find it strange that towards the higher end of servings, the time to pop the pasta in the microwave is equal to or greater than 18 minutes, my estimated stove time. Actually, all the way up to 27 minutes for some pastas!

Isn't the microwave built for convenience? This seems like the opposite of that.

Second problem: You're going to get not-so-great pasta. Why? Cooking 8 servings of pasta only calls for 4 cups of water. 4 cups? Alton Brown would smack you silly! That's not nearly enough for all the starches to properly release, to give the pasta that swimmy goodness that it loves, that water breathing room!

So, in summary, stay away from Pasta N More. You're going to get poorer quality pasta in a longer cooking time than just tossing a pot on the stove.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Twitter Headlines: Obama, Palin Accounts, Credit, and Sharia Law

Usually I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel of Twitter headlines after picking out the super-celeb and sports stories about someone famous tweeting something their manager or coach disapproves of, but this week is rife with tasty tidbits!

Obama Hacker says "Excusez-moi!"

A 25-year old French man has been apprehended as a hacker who got into Barack Obama's Twitter account. Great: another reason for Americans to baselessly hate refined wine and delicious cheeses. Of course, all the blame doesn't go to the man himself; when your password is "pelosi" it's not rocket science to hack.

Palin Takes Aim

Sarah Palin's healthcare tweet:
Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: "Don’t Retreat Instead – RELOAD!" Pls see my Facebook page.
Oopsie! I get it. I understand the figurative language. Unfortunately, I suspect it will take less than 2 weeks for someone somewhere to take that literally and act upon it. When you're famous, social media also contains an aspect of responsibility.

(Note: She's also getting a show on Discovery)

Social Media & Your Credit?

Seriously, are we shocked by this? Years ago, I had a credit card company I'd been with for years run a credit check and - without notice - raised my rate by over 10% because they didn't like my debt-to-income ratio. Colleges and employers readily use social media checks as often as they do background checks. And now companies are checking out Twitter and Facebook for excuses to increase rates or deny you credit? I've got 3 words for you:

Amputation Chatter Cut Off in Nigeria

A Nigerian court has ordered no more chatting about a guy who was punished with amputation for stealing a cow.
An order is hereby given restraining the respondents either by themselves or their agents from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe.
Bwa-ha-ha! A chat forum on Twitter. They must be really good at the internets.

Slightly more disturbing:
You would think that social media sites are not particularly popular with Sharia Law proponents. Wrong. After a British guy ended his marriage on Facebook last year, a couple of Sharia lawyers claimed that, rather like SMS, divorce on Facebook or Twitter would be acceptable.

Not that I agree with it, but as opposed to our own courts, it's interesting to see that Sharia law has someone paying attention to emerging technology and social media.

That's it this week. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Foursquare Changed My Brain

Last weekend I attended a fantastic Second Saturday with New Media Cincinnati. The panel included D.G. who touted the wonders of Foursquare, elucidating about the ability of it to take social media and turn it around and foster real-world relationships.

Hey! That's what I talk about all the time!

So I had to jump on - finally. I downloaded the app for the Pre right then and there and as soon as I got home, I set up an account and started digging in.

And then my perception changed in an interesting way.

When I was in college, I worked for a few years in television production and the result of that was a change in how I saw news fonts and graphics on air. Soon after college, I acted in an independent film which changed my understanding of how films were organized and shot as opposed to how they showed up in the final cut. This was a much quicker and less monumental change, but a noticeable one nonetheless.

As soon as I was set up, I checked in for the first time - at a location I had to create: The Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati. And something lit up.

My thoughts moved to what was coming up in the next few days, where I had to stop, where I could check in, and my plan for stops on a daily basis went from a list to a mental map with little glowing nodes that signified where I'd check in and the glowing lines between them.

Gas station, eye doctor, Dilly Cafe. Mexican restaurant for dinner, bar for drinks, Kroger for shopping.

I'm sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. Foursquare is a website with app companions that help you "unlock your city." Sign up for an account, download the app, and when you load it, the GPS in your phone will alert you to venues people have created. Check in and you earn points. You can see who's been there, who's there now, and if you check in at least twice and more than anyone else at that venue, you become the Mayor of that venue. As you progress, you also unlock badges like "checked in 10 places" or "3 places in one night" or "Local: same place 3 times in 1 week." You can also add suggestions to each venue to give someone a heads up on something they should try.

Granted, there is also potential danger - someone could use Foursquare to see that you're not home and go rob your house. Then again, as an article I recently read talked about, an answering machine pickup or even a funeral announcement in the paper can do the same thing.

A week later, I hold two mayorships, have unlocked 3 badges, and am just getting started.

From a marketing standpoint, the more a business gets involved, the more visible they can be by promoting themselves and even posting deals on their Foursquare venue page.

Like I said, I'm a n00b, still trying to figure it all out. So check out Foursquare for yourself when you get a chance. Add me to your friends. And have fun with it!

Oh, and here's a Foursquare rap I found: Badges Like Us

Monday, March 22, 2010

Inspiration: Paradise - There's Nothing to It

Another quote this week for your inspiration joys, from the song "Pure Imagination" from the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:
If you want to view paradise,
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There's nothing to it

Okay, so it's the silliness of Willy Wonka, right? Wrong.

The quote tells us that if you want to view "paradise," if you want to view a heavenly realm of existence, all you need to do is look around yourself, look at where you are.

You're already here.

I know this wraps back into last week's post, but it's of a different flavor.

If you "truly wish to be" where you envision yourself, if you want to be there, you "simply" must craft it. You create your own reality, your own paradise. Reality has no weight but that which we add. Shakespeare may have been indulging in ethical relativism when he wrote in Hamlet "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so," but that ties into our daily lives.

Every morning can be painful, every day a chore. And it will all be stress and misery.

Or every morning a seed of success, a chance to help others, a winning proposal to get important things done.

Thinking makes it so.

And if your thinking is not on par? If your thinking is a cause of poison in your life? That's on your shoulders.

Want to change the world?
There's nothing to it

A great debt of thanks to William Shakespeare and Leslie Bricusse (writer of "Pure Imagination") for my inspiration today.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Always Driving to Now

I can't recall exactly which book it came from by the amazing Richard Bach, but this quote came to mind in the last couple days:

I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth it?

-Richard Bach

Every day that passes, every moment we live adds to the total time we've spent on this Earth, and every Now is the result of that time. In essence, you've traded your entire life up to this moment for this moment.

This is a gut check. This is a frozen moment of reality and self-awareness. And no matter what you see, it should not be a moment of panicking.

The best case scenario puts you at a level of contentment: "I'm doing all right." The worst case scenario would be the opposite: "What have I been doing?" And contrary to what you might be thinking, both of these require action. If you do not like what you see, change it. The fact that life has added up to this point specifically means that every moment thereafter can change the equation. If you're content with what you see, remember to not remain content.

We are the constructors, the builders. And only we are to blame for who we are. As Arthur O'Shaughnessy famously wrote: "We are the music makers,/ And we are the dreamers of dreams..."

So assemble your life the way you want it to look. Change if you like. Maintain if you like. Always strive for more and better.

There's not better time than now.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eric's Mystery Music: 3/13/10

I've been scouting my music collection and realized you might enjoy some stuff you, perhaps, have never heard before. Here are 4 wonderful selections:

The Blow: Parentheses

Menomena: Muscle n Flo

Bon Iver: Flume

Rasputina: Transylvanian Concubine

Friday Videos: Grizzly Bear, Regeneration, FAIL

If you've never heard of Grizzly Bear, take a minute and check this out. The video is a little odd (meaning I love it) and vocals are fantastic.

Regenerating bodies from New Scientist. Always something to drop your jaw, those guys.

...and an obvious, thoughtless end to the week: Backflip fail.

Have a good one!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Impress Yourself

Today's a simple idea, a simple message, but hopefully something that will help drive your day.

It's about you. When it comes to the end of the day, when you turn off the lights, when you look in the mirror in the morning, you are the person you have to live with. You are your passion, your brand, your word.

So from now on, realize that you are the only person you have to impress.

Be your own barometer. You'll be a harsher judge and prouder producer than anyone else can be of you.

Now go out there and get 'em!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Microsoft Forced to Let Europe Choose Browser

From the Telegraph:
From today, people running Microsoft's Windows operating system will be presented with a screen asking them to choose which web browser they would like to use.
Microsoft was forced to introduce the browser "ballot box" following a ruling by the European Commission that Microsoft's practice of pre-installing Internet Explorer on every new computer was anti-competitive. The Commission accepted Microsoft’s offer of rolling out the ballot box across its range of Windows machines, which it believes will make it easier for computer users to choose an alternative browser to Internet Explorer.

"Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use,” said Neelie Kroes, the EU's competition commissioner.
My first thought was "Sure, that makes sense. Microsoft has a basic weight advantage that's been shouted about for years. They load IE on their machines and people don't know the difference."

But that's the problem; most people don't know the difference. And they don't care. I worked with my parents for over a year before they decided that Firefox was an important innovation in their browsing experience. And even then they weren't impressed. Just something different to complicate things.

My Take

I was feeling for the decision until I read "Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use."


Every single American and European and Asian and EVERYONE has a decision to make about what browser they will use to view the internet. Browsers are free. If you're ignorant about that, then you're simply ignorant about that.

I'm not a Microsoft fan (and program open source), but I appreciate the place and service they provide for regular users of computers. Yes, it sucks that Windows is the only way most people know how to use a computer. But Windows is the only way most people know how to use a computer! And if it comes down to it, I'd prefer more people in the world are computer and web-literate than not.

So for me, the question of this article comes down to: Is it up to Microsoft to let people know that different browsers are available? That they don't have to pick MSIE every time?

I don't think so.

I'd guess most people who have to look at that "ballot box" will know one logo and pick that. Because if they didn't have the choice, they would just deal. And if they knew better, they'd download the browser they wanted to download. Simple as that.

It's not their job to inform the public of the options; it's mine. It's ours.

As a developer, you design for Firefox and fix for IE. Because IE is (still!) not as compliant on the basic W3C basics as others are. I've heard Opera is the most compliant, but Google doesn't support Opera. (I know: boo!)

So the basic users? Probably IE. Because it's there.

Only we can tell them there is something better out there.


Twitter Phishing - Social Media Fraud | kevanshome.org

Like many of you, I've received a handful of DMs from Twitter that say things like "somebody wrote something about you in this blog here http://tinyurl.com/yauj2fw" or "This you???? http://is.gd/93Hts"

No worries - the URLs have been disabled by both tinyurl and is.gd respectively.

What you would've seen had you clicked those URLs is what looks exactly like a Twitter login page. And apparently there are enough people who gawk at the login and automatically both salivate and type at the same time to see if that's them or if somebody wrote about them ...on a blog ...on Twitter :s

The Result

Luckily, it doesn't appear to be anything horribly malicious on the surface. You login to the fake site, they have an auto programming running in the back that logs on to your account and sends everyone following you a DM linking back to the site so they can do it to all of that person's followers. Perhaps there's something hiding under the surface there, but it's more of an annoyance right now.

The Source

When you click those phishing links, you end up on a page with the root domain as kevanshome.org (going there now gives you a Phishing MySpace account.

Figuring this person was at least a little savvy, I wasn't expecting much when I grabbed the WhoIs info, maybe a blocker program at the least. Nope. Here's what I found:
Domain ID:D157042268-LROR
Created On:06-Sep-2009 07:34:50 UTC
Last Updated On:10-Nov-2009 14:03:03 UTC
Expiration Date:06-Sep-2010 07:34:50 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Xin Net Technology Corporation (R118-LROR)
Registrant ID:7kkxo6fmgfrrz7
Registrant Name:Ken Evans
Registrant Organization:Ken Evans
Registrant Street1:Star Street
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Shang Hai
Registrant State/Province:Shanghai
Registrant Postal Code:100000
Registrant Country:CN
Registrant Phone:+86.02142552594
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:+86.02142552594
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:lixing688@gmail.com
Admin ID:7kkxo6fmgfrrz7a
Admin Name:Ken Evans
Admin Organization:Ken Evans
Admin Street1:Star Street
Admin Street2:
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Shang Hai
Admin State/Province:Shanghai
Admin Postal Code:100000
Admin Country:CN
Admin Phone:+86.02142552594
Admin Phone Ext.:
Admin FAX:+86.02142552594
Admin FAX Ext.:
Admin Email:lixing688@gmail.com
Tech ID:7kkxo6fmgfrrz7a
Tech Name:Ken Evans
Tech Organization:Ken Evans
Tech Street1:Star Street
Tech Street2:
Tech Street3:
Tech City:Shang Hai
Tech State/Province:Shanghai
Tech Postal Code:100000
Tech Country:CN
Tech Phone:+86.02142552594
Tech Phone Ext.:
Tech FAX:+86.02142552594
Tech FAX Ext.:
Tech Email:lixing688@gmail.com
Name Server:NS.XINNET.CN
Name Server:

So I know about enough to do some minor internet detectiving, but this one's a little out of my depth.

So instead of a full-on expose, this is more of a first-step fact-finding report. I might do something with it, but I know there are people out there much better equipped to dig into the information. Let me know if you find anything!