Current Events

Sauna in a Container

The Sauna Box is water tight and can be transported to any location, needs minimum site preparation, has a wood fired stove and is electrically powered by solar panels.

Moco Loco

Yahoo integrates RSS into Mail client

RSS reading is going to be integrated into the next version of Yahoo Mail which is out in limited beta (to get on the beta list, go to What’s New with Yahoo! Mail). John Furrier sat down to talk with Scott Gatz and Ethan Diamond of Yahoo who both played a big part in the integration. Scott has also posted a couple of screenshots so you can see what it looks like).

Scott’s got some great things to say about how Yahoo views RSS from the perspective of the average Joe and, in the quote below, how Yahoo envisions enabling personal networks of the future.

We recognize that people consume RSS differently. Some want to read it on their mobile device, some want to read on their on
personalized home page….in their Inbox, some want to be tapped on the shoulder when their feed has been updated, some want to read it on Yahoo news, and some people want to search through it. Some people want to do a little bit of all of that. The great thing about Yahoo is we learn about you, we learn about what sources you care about, and we integrate all of those pieces so they come together. If you are at your home computer, your work computer… on your phone, no matter where you are at… that information should follow you. It shouldn’t be tied to one computer… one software application. It should follow you wherever you go. That is the benefit of personalization on Yahoo… the idea that it knows who you are, it remembers those things and makes them easier and easier… as we integrate it throughout the entirety of Yahoo…wherever you want it to be.

This will be the beauty of synching your personal details to a service and “living in the cloud.” Microsoft’s recent announcement of Windows & Office Live is not all that revolutionary. Apple had their .mac service and Synch around before that and Yahoo’s Address Book, Calendar, and Notepad have been delivering an internet-enabled PIM for years. Putting stuff online and having it available whenever and wherever you need it is old hat. The next step is to have your information synch seemlessly between your various internet-enabled devices and begin to make choices for you based on your method of access.

I subscribe to a feed of traffic conditions on my reader because a feed saves me browsing to a site and entering in a few keystrokes. I really only look at this feed right before I head to my car to go home. Sometimes I forget to check and then there’s that panic as I drive towards the freeway and have to decide between two or three routes home. Which will it be? I hope the traffic update from Dana Fields comes on NPR before I have to choose.

The smart alternative is to have Yahoo! send me alerts of any severe traffic conditions that may impact my drive home via SMS to my cell phone from 4 to 7 pm each night. That’s utility.

Insulting British Slang

The BBC has a web site where you can browse or lookup British Slang. I guess that’s fulfilling the part of their charter which has them preserving the culture of the British Isles. I like their little disclaimer on the lookup page:

***Please note: the dictionary contains many words that are not used in the politest of conversations.  If you search for insulting words or browse through our collection of insulting words, you may be insulted.

This one goes into the, “Legal disclaimers we like” file


For the past week, Julia’s been breaking out in spontaneous song. Short clips here and there, her favorite is Yesterday. I’m not even sure where she picked this up but it clearly stuck with her. Today, I finally caught it on tape.

Listen to yesterday.mp3


Tyler’s First Grade Report Card

Tyler is at grade level in all areas. He is well behaved and well like by others. He is a hard worker. He only needs improvement in working quietly at his seat. He talks a lot and is very interested in what others are doing. He needs to take his time with his handwriting and make sure the letters are on the lines.

Somehow, we had a feeling there would be something in there about his talking everyone’s ears off. He is full of ideas and it’s almost like if he can’t get them out, he’ll explode. Today he informed me that he had invented a new numerical unit. You know how they have million, billion, and trillion; thanks to Tyler we now have killion. “This number is so large that by the time you count to it, you’re dead.”


Daytripping to Santa Cruz: The Mystery Spot & Boardwalk best enjoyed in the off season

So ends our long weekend. It’s amazing how refreshing some time off can be when you take the time to enjoy it by not going anywhere. Our neighbors across the street took a week-long holiday to the Caribbean and they look exhausted. We stood still while the rest of our block rushed off to the four corners of the globe. I guess that’s one advantage in having a family so far away that you don’t make it out to see them unless you can set aside at least two weeks.

So I already wrote about our Thanksgiving and the shopping expedition afterwords so I’ll launch right into days three and four. We woke up real early on Saturday so we could make the 9am tour at the Mystery Spot. This place has been around for years as an old tourist trap and I like it because they never really upgraded the place since the 50’s so it’s got this great retro feel to it. They never really got into the multimedia thing so the tours are still $5 a head and you’re taken through with just someone talking and quipping a few well-placed jokes along the way (“Here’s your complimentary Mystery Spot bumper sticker. If you don’t want to put it on your car, there are plenty of others in the parking lot.”)

The premise of the place was that some kind of weirdness has turned things around there so that just to regain your balance, you need to lean at weird angles just to keep from falling over. The trees grow in corkscrews and balls roll uphill. It’s really worth checking out if you’ve never been. Tyler loved it but had summed it up pretty nicely when I asked him why balls rolled uphill. “It’s because there’s less gravity on the one end.” was his reply delivered in a, can’t-you-see-it’s-obvious tone of voice. I guess he’s right but it’s that lack of gravity that has everyone wondering.

As luck would have it, the digital camera wasn’t charged so you’ll have to wait for the developed photos from the disposable camera we bought. It felt almost quaint spending money on film and them having people pose for a photograph. How soon we forget.

I hope the Mystery Spot doesn’t do anything funky to film.

Later that day we visited the Boardwalk at Santa Cruz. I can see that this place is a regular mob scene in the Summer (think Coney Island or the Jersey Shore) so I’m glad we were visiting when there were reletively few around. It was strange to be playing mini-golf in a t-shirt in late-November but if this is California weather, I’ll take it. We later caught a glimpse of the surfers catching some pretty impressive waves off West Cliff Drive just North of Santa Cruz on the way home. I hear that it snowed that day in the Sierras which makes it conceivable that you could surf in the morning and be snowboarding by the evening of the same day.

Today was the great unpacking (untangling) of the Christams lights and we spent most of the day sprucing things up for the annual Christmas Tree Lane light up which starts this weekend. I bought a few more lights this year so have incrementally notched up the luminary power of our display over last year’s. For those that don’t know, our street is known for it’s lights so there’s an unwritten rule that everyone needs to go a little over and above what most would do for the holidays. We have a neighborhood meeting about it every year and the city chips in by stringing lights up on the center divider on our street. It’s thankfully not competitive and we all help each other out borrowing ladders and lending a hand as we all face our duty to keep up the reputation of this block for yet another year. I later picked up a Christmas tree which we will decorate later. It shouldn’t take to long, it’s only 4′ tall – we need to make room for all our kitchen stuff which is going to take up temporary residence in our living room when we begin construction on the kitchen next month.

Tomorrow it’s back into work – I’ll plug in the iPod tonight and let it charge up and download the latest news so I can catch up during the drive in tomorrow. For now, it’s off to bed.

Current Events

Masher Defined

Hi Matt. I was going to post a comment on your post but your blog provider seems to be down for maintenance so I can’t seem to open up an account on their system so I’ll post on my blog and trackback to you.

You might want to step away from using the term “masher” to identify someone that puts together mashups of web APIs.


Pronunciation: (mash’ur)

n. Slang.

a man who makes advances, esp. to women he does not know, with a view to physical intimacy.

Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease

On second thought, maybe if you swap out “man” for “developer” and “women” for API, then it does work.


Current Events

Huge jellyfish

In other new, huge jellyfish, weighing up to 200 kilograms, are wreaking havoc to the fishing business in the waters between Japan and China. Some blame global warming.



This year we decided to stay close to home for the holidays. Partially out of necessity as we’re going to be shelling out big bucks for a kitchen remodeling in the next month or so and need to keep our costs down but also out of a need just to relax a little and catch a breather before the Christmas Holidays hit us with full force.

We weren’t even going to have a Thanksgiving dinner but Tyler insisted so Izumi went out and got a small turkey and gave it a whirl to great success. The bird was excellent and with sides of stuffing, brussell sprouts, and cranberry sauce, it was a real treat. We popped a bottle of this year’s Beaujolais (warning: tacky flash site) and had a feast.

On Friday, just because we had never seen it in person, we decided to join the hoards at the mall for the annual running of the bulls bargin hunters. While we didn’t make it by the 5 AM openings of some of the stores (we didn’t wake up until 6:30 and there was a mix-up when Izumi navigated us to Pleasant Hill instead of Pleasanton) we did get a sense of the madness at a local toystore. We saw a mad dash for the last box of 100 piece Lego sets for $9.99 – little chipped, “That’s ok, I’ll take it!” says the crazed lady.

The line to pay snaked around to the back of the store but we were there just for a Transformer which we had promised to pick up for him the day before. He had lent it to a “friend” of his that is also in the middle of moving away. His “friend” then “misplaced it” and it looks like the Razorclaw is in a box somewhere on the way to Ohio. Tyler was devastated and there was a valuable lesson in there somewhere about giving up your material goods to the great karma God in the sky but there we were, back at KB Toys for another fix. Anyway, because our Christmas shopping is out of the way (thank you Amazon!) we could afford to be laid back about the hunt and just enjoyed the conversation.

There was a running narrative from the lady behind us who was giving us the lowdown on all the toys we passed in the aisle. Did you know that Mattel has updated the classic card game Uno with a new variant called Uno Attack that shoots out cards at you from a machine? Seems like a thinly veiled way of getting a toy shooter into households that don’t approve of toy guns for their kids, “Look mom, can I have this? It’s just a card game.” Kid later mods it to shoot out poker chips or something and has some real fun. Lesson to teach basic math skills through card game, out the window.

Also overheard was the conversation from the stock room. Inside piece of market data. The Darth Vader Voice-Changer Helmets are not selling well. Maybe for the kids they aren’t. I just read a review on Amazon and it looks like this might be a runaway hit for insecure middle managers:

The mask arrived at the perfect time. Morale was low, and my employees were starting to undermine everything I told them. I found their lack of faith disturbing, so I scheduled an emergency meeting for my team. Showing up five minutes late — waiting until the tension was thick — I made my dramatic entrance into the room. Wearing all black and my Darth Vader Voice Changer Helmet, I could literally see beads of sweat instantly form on their foreheads. My imposing visage made my statement clear — I was the boss.

Sounds like a scene out of The Office.

We finished up our morning with some well-deserved caffeinated drinks and headed home. A couple more stops where we picked up an industrial-sized dustpan (don’t ask), some handmade soap, and some other knick-knacks and we were done for the day.

Later I’ll post about the rest of the weekend which included a trip to the Mystery Spot and Santa Cruz.

What’s Scoble Reading

We’ll get <meta> on you today. Here’s a link to Robert Scoble’s Blogroll.