An homage to Geocities

All I can say is thank God Geocities is shutting down today. I wouldn’t have known that save for a link sent to me by my coworker. The link was to xkcd.com, one our favorite sites, which today featured a tribute to Geocities websites of old.

In case you missed it, here is the XKCD homepage today:

XKCD homage to Geocities thumbnail

Anyone else as glad as me that most of those websites (*cough* MySpace *cough*) are now off the internet?

No whale hunting in Oklahoma

Ever read one of those little snippets that makes you take a second to really listen to the text of it again in your head, just to make sure your brain and eyes are communicating properly? What if you read a whole list of true facts/laws/ordinances that seemed to make no sense but are nonetheless still true facts/laws/ordinances?

The other day I was sent a link to a listing of strange facts and like a train wreck I could not look away. So rather than fight the urge to stay clear of the nonsense I dove headlong into it.

From that list, here are my top few favorites:

  • You can’t plow a cotton field with an elephant in North Carolina
    But dude, that would be the best way to do it because they animal is sooo big.
  • In Lehigh, Nebraska it’s against the law to sell donut holes
    Probably because of some high schooler’s shenanigans where someone woke up one day and found the middles of their donuts missing.
  • Every citizen of Kentucky is required by law to take a bath at least once a year
    Because once a decade is really not considerate enough.
  • It is against the law to whale hunt in Oklahoma
    Think of the whales that will be saved by this one. Whew!
  • In Breton, Alabama, there is a law on the town’s books against riding down the street in a motorboat
    Again, darn high schoolers. And I had a big time summer trip planned in Breton already. Complete with the motorboat. There goes that one.

In honor of the beginning of April… HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY! 🙂

One man’s voice – now on iPhone

For a long time I have wanted to set my blog up in a way that allowed for an automatic transition when being viewed from an iPhone. I have always thought it was cool when a site knew that you were coming in from an iPhone and optimized the site for loading on that small resulotion. And it made sense to me that since I am a developer I should be probably develop something like that for my blog.

Well, since I am a developer, and the developer’s philosophy of “lazy developers are the best developers”, it was with insane gladness that I was pointed to the cool little WordPress plugin called wptouch. Now I don’t have to make this because it is already made. How awesome is that?

I really like this plugin. It has a very robust administrative panel so you can set things up pretty much however you want them to appear. The team that brought wptouch also included a photoshop template file for you to make your own iPhone style icons to add to the theme.

Now I just wish I had the 3G iPhone because my 2G loads slower than crap and makes for a very crappy user experience for me. Not that there are that many people reading my blog from an iPhone. But I do, and that means that I need to make sure I am happy. And right now the speed of my connection over EDGE just plain sucks, so I am not happy.

But I happy with the plugin because it loads a very clean, easy to use and very intuitive theme when you hit from a mobile device. So if you happen to have an iPhone/iPod touch, check out this blog with it and see for yourself how cool wptouch is.

Robbie Madison is a mad man

Sometimes a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do. And sometimes a guy has to temper his ego, which can sometimes get bigger than what he can physically handle.

And sometimes he has to find that very thin middle ground… that place in between “I am so going to blow the lid off this thing” and “I wonder if I will still have a face when this is all over”. It is in that middle ground that magic happens. Where things like what Robbie Madison did on New Years in Las Vegas fall:

Hole. E. Canoli. That was sicker than a skydiving mule doing air ballet from a space shuttle.

Kings, and the folks that love them

NBC launched a new television show called Kings this past Sunday evening. It is a modernized version of the David and Goliath story featuring a new, young actor named Chris Egan. Egan plays a soldier by the name of David Shephard who earns favor with king Silas Benjamin, played by veteran actor Ian McShane by standing up to and staring down an enemy tank code named Goliath. The reason he earns the kings favor? He stared down the tank in order to rescue two fellow soldiers, one of whom is the son of the king.

I like the story line, and the way that it is presented. For a modern, made for TV drama series, the writers did a really good job of pulling in snippets of the real David and Goliath story into this show. I think it helps that they have a Christian actor in Chris Egan as well, who grew up in Phil Pringle’s Christian City Church in Australia and is now staying in Los Angeles but communicating regularly with the pastor the church I attend. Regardless, I applaud NBC for their boldness and willingness to take on a story line like this one. I’m amazed that a network station would step into that.

That said, I think there is a huge untapped market of viewers for all networks that would like to see more shows that involve bible-based stories presented with a modern twist. I think it makes the bible much more relevant when you can see what happened through today’s eyes. Not saying that the TV show is in any way a real reenactment, but applying the world of today to a story from thousands of years ago makes the story from way back when seem a little more understandable.

So if you are into looking at something different, outside the norm or just pretty cool and entertaining, tune in to NBC’s Kings. It is a good story with good acting and a good presentation.

The newest obsession in the Gonzalez home – Freecycle.org

Dude, just when I thought we had escaped the swarming mountain of crap that we have acquired over the years (losing all of your credit worthiness has a tendency to that to you you know) my wife discovered Freecycle.org. And has our mountain of acquired junk grown or what?

We have gotten a pair of equestrian riding boots for Rebekah, a table that was born out of a converted door and a 12 inch Calphalon skillet. We have also gotten rid of a microwave cart and a rice maker. So I guess we are not just blindly acquiring things for the sake of acquiring them. Well, I can’t say that. But I can say that we are getting rid of some things along the way. Which is better than when we would go out and buy stuff and never purge.

Now if I could just find a way to purge 98% of my garage I might be able to get into my garage fridge and snag me a Heineken. I wonder if I can list an entire garage on Freecycle?

Little Bobby Tables? Or do I prefer Robert?

Way back when I ran across a comic at xkcd.com that outlined the funny things that can happen when developers forget to escape input:

Little Bobby Tables strikes hard

This brought a tremendous amount of laughter to everyone that works in my department (since many are database people and a few are developers) and from that point on I had the lovely nickname “Little Bobby Tables”.

In an effort to try to rectify that I found a LOLCAT picture that sums up a little better what my position is on the name “Little Bobby Tables”:

Bobcat prefers to be called Robert

Little Bobby Details has spoken.

How big is big?

Me: “I hate Internet Explorer. It can’t even handle large tables.”
Me: “Can a table get that large?”
He: “No, but a zucchini can.”
Me: “Dude, WTF?”

I turn around to see what he is talking about and BAM!, there is a big fat zucchini in my face. Shocked and awed at the sight of this thing, I could only pick it up and try to quell the thoughts that any man would have when faced with something this big.

A big zucchini is always fun

Ok, comments are open. Let me have it. I know you will anyway.

PS For those that care, the ladies around here named him “Zucchy” and promptly took him home and made bread from him. 🙂

Subliminal marketing message case study – FedEx

Subliminal marketing, a term that has taken a lot of flack from those that think that companies are twisting our arms into buying their products by sending mumbled messages and flashed images in radio, print and TV advertisements, is an interesting topic for discussion among marketers, developers and anyone that ever plans to buy something. I am not that big of a marketing guy myself, but there are times when things just catch my eye (and for my wife, no, I am not talking about beer babes and bouncing boobs in bikinis bobbing around the beach).

Take the case of FedEx and their logo. Their identity is essentially wrapped up in this little five letter image:

The FedEx Logo
The FedEx Logo

There really is not a whole lot of fancy smancy action going on there. In fact, an interview with the designer of the logo reveals that it was a big task to design it but ultimately the simplicity of the logo rang loudly with the executive in the deciding chambers of the company. One of the things that sold this logo was the little nugget of an arrow between the “E” and the “x”. Can you see it? If not, here’s a little helper for you:

The arrow leads the way
The arrow leads the way

A while back I remember reading something about this arrow in the FedEx logo. In fact, Rebecca Bollwitt twittered:

I just realized the white space between the E and X in “FedEx” makes an arrow :-\

Within minutes Colleen Coplick replied:

@todmaffin @miss604 the fedex arrow thing is intentional. branding 🙂 have a friend deep in the comms dept in Memphis.

Wanting to look deeper into the discussions that have cropped up about this arrow, I did a Summize (now search.twitter.com) search for fedex arrow and found that there has been significant chatter about this. Subliminal marketing score for FedEx right? Sort of.

As I looked closer at the logo I began to see something that I have not ever seen anyone talk about. Can you see it? The FedEx spoon, strategically placed between the “e” and “d” in Fed (what better a place for a spoon?). If you need help, well, I have a helper for that too.

Not only delivering arrows, but spoonfuls of them, too
Not only delivering arrows, but spoonfuls of them, too

Oddly, a search for FedEx Spoon turned up no results at all. How does this happen? How can such a noticeable symbol of feeding service go missed for this many years? I mean, it is a spoon, inside of Fed. How can anyone miss that. Subliminal marketing score for FedEx? Not quite.

Although every time I see a FedEx logo, whether it is a truck, a billboard, an airplane or whatever, I always look at the arrow and think “FedEx is heading in the right direction”. But I also stop and think “What exactly are they feeding me with this logo?”. Yes, I get my packages overnight. And yes, I can track packages I send easily and quickly.

But to think that FedEx spoon feeds me too. Well, they have secured my business for the rest of my life I think. Or at least until they change their logo again.

I want to be able to do this when I am 40

In 1985 I got really into skateboarding. I am not sure what it is that got me so into the sport but I really got into it. I also had gotten some of my friends into it with me so that we could all have something to do together. It didn’t take long for all of us to become enormous skateboarding obsessed fanbois.

I also became a huge fan of the Bones Brigade. So much so that my little clique of friends actually emulated the them down to my friend Jason Theil taking on freestyle skating a la Per Welinder and Adam Green skating in a lanky, gangly fashion like Tony Hawk.

The reason I was thinking about that is because of a totally raw out video I saw the other day. It is a video of Tony Hawk tearing it up on a freakish ramp doing things that really only a skater like Tony Hawk can do. What stood out the most to me was that I got into skating 23 years ago.

Side note: there is no way in hell I am old enough to have picked up a hobby 23 years ago.

Whatever the case, Tony Hawk was only 17 at the time and had just turned pro a few years earlier. He was bad as all get out back then, doing things that no one else was doing, including preparing for the 720 and doing a sick number of consecutive 540 McTwists. I remember watching Bones Brigade Videos and watching the guys skating streets, launch ramps, quarter pipes, half pipes and downhills.

In fact, the most memorable moment I had of the gang was the end of the Search for Animal Chin video when they finished up the movie on that sick back-to-back half pipe that had the inner cut away taken out for a spell and allowed pretty much the whole crew to skate at the same time while some were catching air over others skating through. It was sick.

The ramp had half pipes on the deck too, and the entire thing had to be 60 feet wide. It was awesome. Have a look:

Then along came this little gem. And I am taken aback. I knew Tony Hawk kicked butt. I never knew he kicked butt licked this. Prepare to have your mind blown to bits.

I so want to be this rad when I am Tony Hawk’s age. And if not… well, hopefully I can still find videos of him.