Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sunday's Spiritual Message: "You Are My Hands"

In the midst of our move, I missed my weekly message, so here I'm catching up.

This is a fantastic talk from President Uchtdorf about how we, as individuals, are called upon to do the work that Christ would have us do.

I couldn't figure out how to embed the video, but here is a link to it (where you can read, listen to, or watch the talk) and a snippet that I really enjoyed:

We cannot gauge the worth of another soul any more than we can measure the span of the universe. Every person we meet is a VIP to our Heavenly Father. Once we understand that, we can begin to understand how we should treat our fellowmen.

Here are more messages from the Apostles and Prophets of Jesus Christ:  https://beta.lds.org/study/prophets-speak-today?lang=eng

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A New Chrome for the Chrome Lover

Well, I've done it.  After a little cajoling from Jmember, I've revamped the look and feel of this blog.

Does it work?  Does it match my, as the F-Word would say, CNET blog profile?

What gripes or suggestions do you have?

Thanks, I hope you enjoy it.

In case you're wondering, "The name [Google Chrome] is derived from the graphical user interface frame, or "chrome", of web browsers.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_chrome

Free VoIP on Google Voice

That's right, faithful reader (singular intended), with a few work-around steps, you too can now have a free VoIP soft phone using your very own Google Voice account.

As the details are admittedly intricate in some spots, I'll leave them to Lifehacker (thanks, guys):  http://lifehacker.com/5349506/make-free-voip-calls-from-google-voice

Just make dang sure that you have a phone number listed under where it says, "Phone Numbers" (the one beneath the green section).  You may need to go to "Phone Numbers" up in the top-left and then something like "Buy Phones."  But don't worry, your "first" (and only) phone number is free.

Here's the best part:  Sipgate (the service required to pull this off, at the moment) offers free inbound calls!

Why does this matter?  Using Google Voice, you will always technically be calling your Sipgate number when you place a call and forwarding to your Sipgate number when someone calls your Google Voice number.

The point is, your Sipgate number doesn't need to be known by anyone (even you) since Google Voice does all the work for you.  Heck, I even have some random CA number!  CA for the CA, I guess.

Mind you, the service is not exactly perfect at the moment, but the price is definitely right.

If you feel like I did after pulling this off, you may want to play this song in triumph.  Just don't let it go to your head, and remember the CA when you're basking in free VoIP goodness.

To Russia and Back Again: A Vehicle's Tale

If you really want to get the feel for this post, please listen to the joint anthem of Motor Vehicle Departments everywhere.

With that said, my beloved Colorado plates (one of which now sits on my "office desk") expired in May, and so it was either "put up, or shut up."  I decided to put up, but this required that the title be registered in my name.

What's going to shock you is that making the transfer and obtaining the new license plates (only next door! - not two continents away - though both feel like driving across the whole county) didn't feel like sitting in a communist bread line at all, it was actually a rather quick and mostly painless experience.

Our daughter toddled around, showing off and making friends with a handful of life-experienced and eccentric (the F-Word will know what I mean, here) gentlemen.  Yes, she truly is a sweet heart.

Now for the real shock:  On the way up to the USSR, the orange, "check engine" light turned on . . .  A pretty sight, but not normally a harbinger of good tidings.  To be short in writing, I think the car got a little over-anxious about traveling up to Siberia and sort of did a five-year-old-walking-through-a-haunted-house-alone.

The good news:  After a trip back to our friendly, American, Firestone, the car has back the eye of the tiger and is reeling for another shot at the Motor Vehicle Curtain.

P.S.  If you want a very lengthy and in-depth history of actual Russia, check out your local, red-blooded American, 100% accurate Wikipedia article on it:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia.  It's got some pretty interesting stuff.  (Accuracy guaranteed or your five seconds back. - Wikipedia)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Format Painter in GDocs Spreadsheets!!

This will be a joyous moment for many.  Have a look, just below "Insert" and to the right of the cloud clipboard:

This certainly wasn't a game breaker for me, but I think it was for many.

I checked for it in the old Docs version and the new Docs version.  Nothing doing . . . yet!  Maybe coming to a Doc near you (soon)?

Sound off!  For you non Google Docs users, how does this change your perception?

Monday, June 21, 2010

OCR for PDF Files and Images on Google Docs

Okay, this is basically a repost of an article on Google Operating System, but I figure since about 100% of my readership doesn't read such things, I might venture (to risk redundancy).

OCR stands for optical character recognition, and it basically translates into awesome.

Okay, to be more straightforward, OCR allows a computer to take a pdf or an image (jpeg, png, tiff, bmp) and extract the text from it.

This may sound underwhelming.  Keep in mind that for a computer, pdfs and images mean as much as a blank sheet of paper does to us (nothing).  For a computer to understand the chicken scratch on a page, it needs the 0101010101 behind each character.  OCR enables this phenomenon.

Unfortunately, as you can see from the following example, taken from our grocery list, the feature is not quite fully baked, leaving out critical formatting and missing the mark on a number of words and phrases:

All in good time, gentle readers, all in good time.

Between you and me, what blows my mind is that I read about this new feature just this afternoon, and it's already there.

However, I'm still waiting for the advent of the new Docs editor/format by default and the enhanced sharing features I told you about before . . .

Chrome OS in the Raw

Over the weekend, I had the unique opportunity to experience the real world versatility of Chrome OS:  I accidentally left my (current) laptop plug at work.

Notwithstanding the fact that my dear old Acer is a 1.5Ghz piece of plastic that has to rest on top of a book (Raw Food, Real World) and is as fast as a turtle on Thanksgiving, everything went pretty well.

Surprisingly enough, I lacked access to virtually nothing, as all my relevant docs and services are (more or less) on the cloud.

For the most part, I completely forgot how ancient and out-dated the Acer is, and, as Depeche Mode says, "got [my] head in the cloud[]."  Frankly, I no longer want to "see how it feels, with [my] feet on the ground."

In case you're still "utterly bamboozled by all those buttons and knobs," here's a neat pictogram depicting "the cloud."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Family Photos and Our DAUGHTER

Here are some fun shots (I think a few may be duplicates from a previous post, if so, perdoname). My wife and I are especially tickled by the very last one in the album, which we took tonight. See if you can see why:

We also hope you enjoy this very latest (weirded out color) video of our favorite daughter:

Thanks to our daughter's aunt for a fun outfit!

(By the way, I'm posting this at 4:30am eastern, thanks to the girl in the video.)

The Fail Whale on Our Daughter's Mobile?

(This is not a stock photo.)

I've been meaning to blog about this one for a little while now.

The image above is basically a shout out to an old F-Word post from August of last year.  Here's a fun rant (lambasting Twitter) he linked to on it.  Also, I scoured my emails to find the related (in my recollection) YouTube video and finally realized I had pasted the URL in the very same comments section!  Credit to STM for the video.

Have fun tweeting!

Visit from an Apostle of the Lord

My family and I recently (last Sunday) had the opportunity to hear from one of the Lord's chosen servants on the earth today:  Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

He spoke on how we can grow our faith through repentance, prayer, reading the scriptures, obedience, and sacrifice.  His message was very candid and quite inspiring.

After the the meeting was over, all in attendance were invited to go forward and shake Elder Christofferson's hand.  I have had this opportunity with other Apostles (at least Richard G. Scott, L. Tom Perry, and the late James E. Faust) and it is always a wonderful experience:  These men are special witnesses of Jesus Christ in all the world.

I know that Elder Christofferson and the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apotles and First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are who they say they are.  They are authorized servants of Jesus Christ, to continue to build up His kingdom on the earth, today, in preparation for His Second Coming, and to bless all of God's children now and forever.

Here is a link to what Elder Christofferson said (speaking about the importance of Scripture) this April, in the biannual, General Conference of the Church:


Here is a link to what all 15 of the Lord's Prophets and Apostles have recently said:


Today's Spiritual Message: Good Things to Come

This video from Elder Holland, which, I believe, is about his younger self, really hits home for me:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Something New Bubbling in Gmail???

As you know (or the F-Word will inform you), I'm pretty obsessive about all things Google (especially updates/new features).

Remember how I recently posted about the new video chat buttons (temporarily removed at the moment), as well as Gmail VoIP?

Tonight, I noticed a subtle change in the mouse-over profile for contacts in Gmail.  The buttons (Email, Chat, Video & more) on the bottom of the dialog box used to be on the top, and I'm pretty sure the contact name used to be black (not red).

Do you think this could have anything to do with the new chat buttons (Video Chat, Voice Chat, Group Chat), Gmail VoIP, or both?  (I sure think so, though I'm leaning more toward the former, at the moment.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More AWESOMENESS from my favorite G

In case you've forgotten that I live on the almost bleeding edge of Google technology (at least as far as Chrome is concerned - "almost," because I'm not on Chromium, I'm just on Chrome's developer's build), here are a few reminders:

Latest Chrome dev build finally gets rid of the "go" button:

I never understood the go button.  Who used it?  Seriously?  Additionally, this build now includes Chrome PDF Viewer built in (but disabled) as a plugin.  (Type "about:plugins" into your Chrome address bar to find it.)  It's not amazing right now, but it's not even turned on yet, so I imagine it should be pretty cool, sometime soon.

Sharing in Google Docs just got easier:

Just when I thought it couldn't get any easier!  I use SharePoint at my internship and, no offense to my potential Microsoft (fans/employee) reader(s), but permissioning on SharePoint is about as painless as passing kidney stones.

Honestly, if you're not using Chrome and Google Docs yet, what's wrong with you?  (I can forgive you using IE 6 at work, but at home?!)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Driving to Rushville, IN

What's in Rushville, IN?  Not a whole lot.  But, unlike Cincinnati - or anywhere in OH or KY - there is the nearest Wells Fargo.

Yep, believe it or not, but I drove, with Maria, all the way up to Rushville (1.5+ hr) on Saturday while Christy shoot a wedding.

The best part of all this?  There was a ton of rain/flash flooding going on as I drove.

Thankfully, with Maria in the backseat and Hairless to keep our wits about us, we made it through all right after getting stuck in a 4-ft. deep water hole.  Okay, so that never happened, but there was a lot of rain.

The woman in the window was so bamboozled that when she looked at my deposit slip, she asked if I was the one from Cincinnati.  "No, it's my two-year-old daughter in the back, she drove here and I just hopped in the front seat for the deposit . . ."

If someone wants to embarrass me and say how I could have just made a deposit via 5th 3rd, I'd love to hear it.

View Larger Map

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Today's Spiritual Message: Canaries with Gray on Their Wings

Here is the principal message from the Lord's prophet, President Thomas S. Monson for the month of June:

Nearly 60 years ago, while I was serving as a young bishop, Kathleen McKee, a widow in my ward, passed away. Among her things were three pet canaries. Two, with perfect yellow coloring, were to be given to her friends. The third, Billie, had yellow coloring marred by gray on his wings. Sister McKee had written in a note to me: “Will you and your family make a home for him? He isn’t the prettiest, but his song is the best.”
 Sister McKee was much like her yellow canary with gray on its wings. She was not blessed with beauty, gifted with poise, or honored by posterity. Yet her song helped others to more willingly bear their burdens and more ably shoulder their tasks.
 The world is filled with yellow canaries with gray on their wings. The pity is that so precious few have learned to sing. Some are young people who don’t know who they are, what they can be or even want to be; all they want is to be somebody. Others are stooped with age, burdened with care, or filled with doubt—living lives far below the level of their capabilities.
 To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility. You ask, “How might we achieve these goals?” I answer, “By gaining a true perspective of who we really are!” We are sons and daughters of a living God, in whose image we have been created. Think of that: created in the image of God. We cannot sincerely hold this conviction without experiencing a profound new sense of strength and power.
 In our world, moral character ofttimes seems secondary to beauty or charm. But from long ago the Lord’s counsel to Samuel the prophet echoes: “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
 When the Savior sought a man of faith, He did not select him from the throng of the self-righteous who were found regularly in the synagogue. Rather, He called him from among the fishermen of Capernaum. Doubting, unschooled, impetuous Simon became Peter, Apostle of faith. A yellow canary with gray on his wings qualified for the Master’s full confidence and abiding love.
 When the Savior chose a missionary of zeal and power, He found him not among His advocates but amidst His adversaries. Saul the persecutor became Paul the proselytizer.
 The Redeemer chose imperfect people to teach the way to perfection. He did so then. He does so now—even yellow canaries with gray on their wings. He calls you and me to serve Him here below. Our commitment must be total. And in our struggle, should we stumble, let us plead: “Lead us, oh lead us, great Molder of men, out of the darkness to strive once again.”1
 My prayer is that we will follow the example of the Man of Galilee, who could be found mingling with the poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed, and the afflicted. May a true song come from our hearts as we do so.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blogger's previewer finally works like it should!

Normally, when I would click on the "PREVIEW" button while editing a post, it would open some puny little rectangle that was supposed to give me a flavor of what my post would look like.  The only problem was that it didn't work at all:  the preview often looked nothing whatsoever like the finished product.

All that has changed, though (finally).  Have a look:

Awesome Google Docs Labs in Gmail

Gmail labs is pretty cool.  I currently have 16 labs enabled (all below - listed alphabetically).  But I want to focus on Google Docs labs:  a) "Create a Document," b) "Google Docs gadget," and c) "Google Docs preview in mail."

Create a Document.  While working on projects, I like to refer to instructions or conversations found in a related email.  Sometimes I want to mark them up or expand on them, but this isn't possible with emails.  However, with Create a Document enabled, I can create a doc consisting of every email in the current conversation (how Gmail does emails).  Additionally, I can create a new Google doc right from Gmail - I just press "g" and then "w."  (Gmail keyboard shortcuts must be enabled in settings.)

Google Docs gadget.  There's not much to say beyond the summary below, but it's nice to have a little compendium of my recent docs and a quick place to search for them.  (Update:  I've decided I'm not a huge fan of this lab - it's largely duplicative, takes up space, is distracting, and includes items I've trashed, in the list.)

Google Docs preview in mail.  If you'd like a quick peek at a Google Doc, you can preview it right in Gmail.

I hope this helps you enjoy Google Docs more.  Please let me know if I you have questions about the labs I've covered or any I've enabled below.

Enabled Labs
Authentication icon for verified senders
by E R

Displays a key icon next to authenticated messages from certain senders that spammers attempt to fake. Currently works for mail from PayPal and eBay only.

Send feedback
Canned Responses
by Chad P

Email for the truly lazy. Save and then send your common messages using a button next to the compose form. Also automatically send emails using filters.

Send feedback
Create a Document
by Jeremie LE & David K

Allows you to create a Google Document from an email conversation or a new blank document if your keyboard shortcuts are enabled by hitting 'g' then 'w'.

Send feedback
Don't forget Bob
by Ari L, Naty L & Ron M

Once you pick some email recipients, Gmail suggests more people you might want to include based on the groups of people you email most often.

Send feedback
Google Docs gadget
by Claudia C and Ted C

Adds a box in the left column which displays your Google Docs. Shows recent docs, starred docs, and has fast search.

Send feedback
Google Docs previews in mail
by Steven S, Jim M, Bob B, and Ted C

Shows previews of documents, spreadsheets and presentations directly in the email when you receive any link to a Google Doc. Also gives an option to open directly in Google Docs.

Send feedback
Google Maps previews in mail
by Mark K

Shows Google Map previews of all the addresses found in an email.
Google Voice player in mail
by Robert D

Lets you play voicemails left on your Google Voice account right from the email notification.

Send feedback
Got the wrong Bob?
By Assaf B.D. & Naty L

Doh, have you ever addressed an email too quickly, and included Bob (your boss) instead of Bob (your friend) by accident? If you're emailing more than two people at once, Gmail will check if you meant to include Bob Smith rather than Bob Jones based on the groups of people you email most often.

Send feedback
Inserting images
by Kent T

Allows you to insert images into a message body. You can upload and insert image files in your computer, or insert images by URLs. This lab will not work if you have offline enabled.

Send feedback
Navbar drag and drop
by Anatol P

Allows you to reorder the items in your navbar using drag and drop.

Send feedback
Picasa previews in mail
by Dan, Stanley, Mark & Umesh

Shows photos previews whenever you receive a Picasa link in an email.

Send feedback
Undo Send
by Yuzo F

Oops, hit "Send" too soon? Stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after hitting the send button.

Send feedback

(Proverb) Cookies?

(This is a post the F-word will eat up.)
Whatever happened to getting a "fortune" (prediction) in a "fortune cookie"?

Christy bought some fortune cookies from Kroger for a women's night last night, and these are a few of the fortunes pulled out:

What the rainbow?

These are not fortunes, people, they're proverbs!  As a matter of fact, the third proverb was coined by a former coworker of mine (or was that Gandhi?).

Give me back my authentic Chinese experience as it was meant to be:  random predictions that are outrageously humorous.  E.g., "You will find great riches, soon" or "You will soon gain much weight."

Ah, well.  At least we can pretend all the rubbish Chinese spam I get in the comments section is burgeoning with fantastical predictions.  (Just don't click on any of them if you ever see one before I delete it "forever.")

Update:  Two more cookies.  a) Mine - "Turn your scars into stars" and b) Wife's - "Your friends love both sides of your temperament."  I guess I need to change this whole fortune cookie discontent into fortune cookie lemonade . . .