Sunday, December 11, 2005

Animal Crossing - Wild World

DS Animal Crossing2aLast week we picked up copies of the new Animal Crossing game for the Nintendo DS. If you've played Animal Crossing before, you'll pick this up quickly. All your favorite characters (I like K.K. Slider) are there. I've noticed a couple changes, but they are easy to figure out by talking to the townspeople. I've set up Earltown and here is a picture of me in front of my new house. The Yankee Star design is starting to catch on around Earltown.

We've tried the DS to DS communication-very easy. We were able to exchange apples and pears. We've set up the Wi-Fi connection, but haven't tried it yet. Being able to have visitors in town while you're doing other things adds a new dimension to the game.

Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero 5bDianne got an early Christmas present of the guitar controller for the Sony PS2. It's one of those games that is easy to learn, but difficult to master. As songs play, a scrolling fret bar comes toward you which shows what fret buttons to push while strumming to the music. It's a bit like looking at the road through your front windshield. After focusing on that for a couple songs, I had some dizziness that gave me a headache. It's not for everyone.

There is quite a change in difficulty going from easy to medium to hard settings. Dianne is good at it and has unlocked quite a few songs already. She'll be on tour in no time.

First Lego League

On Saturday, Dianne and I went to a First Lego League competition at Scarlet Oaks. In short, students build robots with Lego blocks and program them to perform a predefined set of tasks. Kyle and Tresha's son Trei is the captain for a local team. I was impressed! There were a lot of volunteers needed to keep things moving along smoothly and the kids seemed to enjoy the challenge and all were showing team spirit. It was fun to see the various Lego robots and how they were programmed to perform the tasks. The teams had different approaches, but generally all were pretty good. Legos, and kids, have come a long way since I had Legos. I remember when Lego wheels were new and exciting!

Dianne Saves the Day!

Dianne saved my bacon last Thursday. It was final exam week and my exam was scheduled at 5:30. Unfortunately, a winter storm hit the area about mid-afternoon Thursday. I left work about 4:15 to allow plenty of time for my usual 15 minute commute to campus. I had made copies of the exam on Wednesday night so I wouldn't have to worry about that. I had them in the car with me.

It took me about 20 minutes to go about 4 blocks after leaving the parking lot at works. The roads were covered with snow, but they weren't bad. People were just driving like weirdos! It was the first big snow and people aren't used to driving in snow anyway. Traffic was a mess!

It was quickly apparent I wasn't going to make it in time for the start of class. Fortunately, Dianne had the day off and was at home. I called her and she printed another copy of the exam and went to Raymond Walters to make new copies. She copied a couple pages to get folks started while the department secretary copied the rest.

I got to class almost 2 hours late. But the fun didn't stop there. The exam was 2 hours long and the last student to arrive got there just before 8 PM. I was there until about 10:15! When I went outside, there were only a couple cars in the parking lat and the grounds crew had started to plow. Unfortunately, they had piled a fair amount of snow along the drivers side of my car. I wasn't able to open the door without digging through a snow bank! I didn't get home until almost 11. That's the longest final exam I've ever given. But the students wouldn't have stayed if Dianne hadn't been able to get there quickly and get them started.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Photoshop Contests

I am always amazed what folks can do with Photoshop. Dianne is good with it. Not only can you not always believe what you read, you can't always believe what you see in a photo these days.

The Worth 1000 site has same interesting Photoshop contests to showcase your skills. This contest on irrational phobias was disturbing. After looking through these pictures I think I developed some new phobias.

Panama canal video

Caution -- this video is HUGE and takes several tens of minutes to download with a DSL connection.

Someone made a time lapse movie from a webcam on one of the Panama canal locks. It's a weeks worth of activity compressed into an eleven minute movie. Click here to see the video. Although the camera position changes occasionally, its a neat view of the operation of the locks, tugboats, etc.


I love DVR! It really has changed the way we watch TV. It's also let us find and watch some shows we'd have missed in the past. One of my new favorites is Survivorman. This guy goes into various wilderness sites for a week alone, with minimal equipment and two cameras. He films himself as he hikes, finds or makes shelter, and looks for food. The survival aspects are interesting and his photography is great. It requires a lot of extra work to place the cameras, get the shot, and retrieve them -- especially when hiking! We catch it on the Discovery Science channel. It's worth a watch if it's available in your area.

After watching the Survivorman start a fire using a spindle driven by a bow made with a shoestring, I asked Dianne if she thought we could do that. Of course not was her reply. Most of the time we are wearing Merrell shoes which don't have laces. I guess we need to carry this Altoid survival kit that has parachute cord around it. We'll need fire to burn the zombies.

Vacuum Dust

Have you ever thought it was wasteful to throw away the full vacuum cleaner bags? I guess one persons trash is another persons treasure. Check out this site for some ideas.