Well, the transition from the old FrontPage site to WordPress is almost complete. The old site is dead, and all links to it have been removed from the site. Around 85% of the old site’s content has either been moved to WordPress or has been archived; check out the Old Site Archive link in the sidebar for an index of older pages that didn’t make the move to WordPress put are still around in a stripped down FrontPage format. All I really have to do now is convert several pages from the old “Critics Corner” section to the Archive and create a bunch of posts from the old “Downloads” page and I’m done!
You’ll also noticed that I’ve tweaked the front page a bit. There’s now a handy “print this” link for every post, which generates a printer-friendly version of the post in question. I’ve also added the IM Online status widget to the sidebar; this lets you know if I am online via AIM or Yahoo! Messenger. If the widget says I’m online, just click on the AIM or Yahoo! icon to start a chat with me.
That’s about all for now. I hope to have the conversion absolutely completed sometime this weekend (or perhaps Monday).
What: A 2-DVD set of the 2001 Jean-Pierre Jeunet film Where: Stores Everywhere! How Much: $29.99 MSRP; I paid $19.95 at Wal Mart
It’s rare to hear the phrase “blockbuster French film”, but last year Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie stormed America’s shores to become one of the top-grossing foreign-language films in U.S. history. And it’s not hard to see why – Amélie is without a doubt one of the sweetest movies of all time. The achingly adorable Audrey Tautou plays Amélie Poulain, a shy and sheltered young girl who remains perpetually single. We see the world through the innocent lens that is her heart, a world in which she tries to fix the problems of all of those around her. Whether trying to pull her widowed father out of his self-imposed exile, bringing together two lonely people at the café where she works, bringing a invalid neighbor out of his shell or exacting her revenge on a green grocer who’s mean to his slow (but sweet) assistant, Amélie’s quixotic mission of spreading happiness forms the basis of the film. Then – thanks to a chance encounter with a beautiful stranger – she realizes that her own life needs the same love she’s spent so much time and effort spreading to others.
What: The amazing book that inspired the Steven Spielberg film. Where: Bookstores Everywhere! When: Though out of print for years, now available anywhere. How Much: $10.47 at Amazon
What is it about “elegant crime” that’s so appealing to us? I don’t think anyone ever dreams about being a violent criminal, but I – and a lot of others out there – feel a pang of jealousy and\or envy when I watch movies about complex jewel heists or art thefts. Somehow using your wits, cunning and a bunch of high-tech gadgets is appealing and darn-near sexy in the commission of a crime, yet sticking up old ladies at ATMs is appalling. Most of us at some point in our lives cheered for – and maybe even wanted to be – Pierce Brosnan in The Thomas Crown Affair or Robert DeNiro in The Score or Gene Hackman in The Heist. But what if the best crime story you ever heard was actually real?
What: Sony’s latest portable Minidisc player Where: Stores everywhere How Much: $129.99 MSRP, I paid $62.83 at Ubid.com
For years, Americans as a whole have been avoiding the minidisc. Minidiscs look something like one of those small 3″ CDs encased in a floppy disc shell. Revered by audiophiles as the only real way for the average person to listen to music digitally, the American hoi polloi have avoided them like the plague, and with good reason. For starters, there’s the whole format issue. Minidiscs came out not too long after CDs began to be the accepted music medium; this was also the same time that DAT and DCC came out, so it’s easy to see how the average person would stick with the more accepted CD. Also, since minidisc is a proprietary format, only Sony makes the players. This means that there is little (OK, no) competition to force prices down like there was for VHS or CD players. Lastly, minidiscs have also traditionally required realtime transfers. This means that copying 70 minutes of music to a minidisc required, well, 70 minutes. So even after Sony started lowering prices on MD equipment – which happened well after CD-R drives started invading American homes – people were loath to waste the time making MDs when even the slowest CD-R drive can do the same in about half the time.
What: Software that syncs your mobile phone with Microsoft Outlook. Where:Futuredial’s site (for CD shipment) or the Sanyo Store (for download) How Much: $29.99 and also requires a USB cable for your phone (sold separately)
One of the biggest beefs I’ve had with SprintPCS over the years is their complete and total refusal to sell a phone that can sync phone books with Microsoft Outlook. It seems so silly to have the exact same list of Contacts on my home and work PCs and my iPaq, but still have to manually enter numbers into my cell phone’s list of contacts.
My friends with Nokia phones have been able to do this for years but Sprint seems content to live in the Dark Ages with its head in the sand, refusing to believe that someone might actually think that it’s convenient to have just ONE LIST of names and addresses that could be synched to multiple devices with a couple of clicks. After all, I can sync my work and home PCs by clicking the “synchronize” button in FusionOne. I can also sync my iPaq simply by putting it in its charging cradle. Why would I want all that convenience? Isn’t it more fun to enter 150 phone numbers on a cell phone by hand? And if someone gets a new work phone number, isn’t it more fun to spend more time changing it on my cell than it takes to sync it to my home (or work) PC and iPaq?
What: Time Warner Cable’s newest digital set-top box. Where: Available in Charlotte and elsewhere, contact your local cable provider for details. How Much: As low as $6.95/month
It you don’t know what a “DVR” is, you’re behind the times. It stands for “Digital Video Recorder” and popular DVRs like TiVo and ReplayTV record your favorite TV shows on a computer hard drive instead of a tape. Given the massive capacities of today’s hard drives, DVRs can record dozens of shows on the hard drive, instead of a measly 8 hours on a T-160 VHS tape. And programming them is a breeze compared to a VCR. Easy to read on-screen menus – much like the channel guide you already have with your current analog or digital cable – have replaced the cryptic commands associated with setting the timer on your VCR.
Back in the 1980s, a new audio format was invented at a research facility in Germany called the Fraunhofer Institut. It was called “MPEG-1 Layer III”. A patent was issued for the new format by the German government in 1989 and Franuhofer would receive an American patent for their format in the United States on November 26th, 1996 – by which time the format was simply known as “MP3”. And so time rolled on… until 1997, when programmer named Tomislav Uzelac developed the “AMP MP3 Playback Engine” for his company Advanced Multimedia Projects – get it? Advanced Multimedia Projects… AMP? Anyway, AMP was the first MP3 software player to hit the market, but MP3 had yet to take off. And so time rolled on… until two Americans – Justin Frankel and Tom Pepper – would take part of the AMP code, give it a nice Windows interface and call it WinAMP. And time rolled on yet again – until 1998 when newer versions of WinAMP became more stable. Finally, the MP3 format would become all the rage.
Lots of my non-technical friends often ask me what the best program for this or best program for that is. In fact, it happens so often that I decided to put a list of them here, so that they could look it up for themselves. However, I figured that a generic list might be a little boring, so I decided to make the list the “First Annual JIMCOFER.COM Best Of IT” Awards – complete with commentary! So put on your black tie and let’s roll out the red carpet… it’s award time!
Office suites are packages of software mostly used in business. They almost always include a word processor and a spreadsheet application, and nowadays most suites come with presentation software, personal information management (PIM) software, and maybe even HTML editing and database software.
Microsoft Office is the 800-pound gorilla in the office suite category, and for good reason: Microsoft has spent millions in R&D making Office as easy to use as possible. And since 90%+ of all businesses use Microsoft Office, you can be sure that any document that you send to a business will be able to be read by the recipient. OpenOffice.org is a package of programs that mirror the capabilities of Microsoft Office, yet has one important difference: it’s free. Although OpenOffice.org is still rough around the edges in many aspects, it’s definitely coming along nicely. Although OpenOffice.org claims to seamlessly import Microsoft Office documents, beware that the conversion doesn’t always work that well in complex documents.
What: A play. A comedy (sort of) Where: Dad’s Garage, 280 Elizabeth Street When: 12 April – 11 May 2002 Website: http://www.dadsgarage.com
Dita and I were heading north on Buford Highway when she stumbled across the ad in the Creative Loafing:
“Look, here’s something for you – the Madonna Obsessive Support Group…”
“Gee, thanks. I know I’m a bit obsessed and all, but…”
“No, it’s a play… at Dad’s Garage.”
I completely forgot about it by the time I got home, but Dita emailed me a reminder shortly thereafter. I hadn’t been to Dad’s Garage since I was in college. Back then it was called “Actors’ Express”. How would Dad’s fare given the somewhat recent gentrification of Little Five Points? I went to the website and checked it out. And then I thought “what the hell – why not”? Was there ever a play more tailor-made for me?
I had so much fun doing the London Tips page that I decided to branch out into general travel tips! Although most of these are about preparation, packing, and air travel, I hope they come in handy for all travelers! As always, this page will undoubtedly grow as I learn new tips from my own travels or from the helpful bunch of jimcofer.com readers… so check back often!
Check Your Travel Documents I – Many countries will not permit you to enter their nation if your passport expires within three to six months of your dates of travel. Here is a partial list of such countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Paraguay, Romania, Singapore (six months); Cambodia, Denmark (including Greenland), Fiji, Switzerland (three months). To make matters even more confusing, some countries date their requirement from the day you enter their country whilst others date it from when you leave their country. And Denmark applies its three-month rule to your stay in any of the core 15 EU countries, so even if you pass Denmark’s requirements at the time and pass to to a country that doesn’t have such a rule (say, Italy), Denmark will still refuse you entry if your passport would enter the three-month zone after you’ve left their country!