Friday, September 20, 2013

Making a decent beverage out of two horrible things

Generally speaking, I like Gelato and I like Lemon. So I had to figure that Lemon Gelato would be a good thing, right? It turns out it's not - at least for me. Super sour, this "ice cream" replacement was barely edible. It's the kind of reaction that makes your face go funny and people around you laugh.

So here it is, and nobody else is going to try and eat this stuff. It's just too much. I hate to waste things though, so I put it away thinking about what I could mix it in or how else I could use it.

So now let's switch gears to this little gem. I LOVE, absolutely LOVE my Keurig. I make coffee and tea with it all the time. Now they have this iced tea as well, which you can brew over ice cubes. Perfect. It works - kind of. I find it a bit of a challenge to get just the right amount of ice cubes into the cup without making the thing overflow like Niagara Falls, and then when it's not enough I add some ice to it at the end and it all kind of works out. But honestly, it kind of tastes like shit. If shit was just rather lifeless and boring. To get this stuff cold enough I usually end up diluting it too much which makes it less sweet than I'd like. Maybe it tastes different because it's Lemonade Iced Tea. Whatever that means. Then the Eureka moment comes! Why don't I combine these mediocre beasts! The cold gelato replaces the ice cubes and adds a hint of sweetness and sourness to the tea - to actually give it some flavor. This is going to be an interesting experiment. I wonder how it will all turn out?

There it goes! The hot tea mixing with the cold gelato. I'm excited at this point! The gelato is melting now as the drink fills up the cup. It turns out that I'll still have to add a couple of ice cubes in the end, but it's smelling pretty good. The only problem now is the final appearance.

Look at this! Hmmmn. It doesn't look too appealing to be quite honest. But adding some ice cubes and giving it a final stir, I'm ready to give it a try!

Wow.  It's actually delicious!!! I'm going to be able to polish off the rest of these ingredients! Gelato Iced Tea.  Who knew?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's All About Nintendo, Of Course...

This past Saturday was an open house at the Personal Computer Museum. We called it our "Father's Day" open house since it was part of Father's Day weekend. I know there are a lot of Dad's out there who would love nothing more than to geek out at our place for a few hours and so I encourage people who have Dad's like this to bring them out. One particular family I am thinking about did just exactly that and spent the better portion of the day with us.

On Sunday I was catching up on some e-mail and received one in regards to the museum. It was asking about us being open on Father's day. "Did I miss it? Did I dream it? I can't find anything about it on your website!" he said. No, because the next day the website automagically updates and shows only FUTURE open houses. I wrote back to the mysteriously named "PRH" and told him that our open houses were only Saturday's and that it was the weekend we were referring to, not the actual day. He politely grumbled back and said that he hoped to have another chance to come out in October.

Later that same day I was spending some time with my best friend Scott. I was cataloging some software for the museum and he was testing some LCD monitors that had been donated. Part of testing these things is of course to put them into actual, daily use and so he sat down at a computer with one of these monitors connected and starting surfing. His web pointer went to Kijiji and somehow he ended up looking at the video game stuff. He called me over in excitement. "Check this out! I don't think you have one of these do you?"

There it was. The Atomic Orange (or Fire Orange as the seller called it) Nintendo 64. Not only that, it came with the box (and styrofoam) and even a copy of the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (my all time favourite game). He wanted $60 for it - a bit pricey, but ....hey, it's hard to find systems like that in this condition. He was also located in Simcoe which is around a 45 minute drive. However, it turns out that Scott works there and by the postal code literally around the corner from this guy. I told Scott I would see if he would take $50 for it and Scott agreed to pick it up from the guy on his way to work.

I went back to my desk as Scott continued to delve into the mysterious world of used goods. He called out to me a bit later and said he found a guy with two WaveBirds for sale. The WaveBird, if you don't know, is a wireless first-party controller for the GameCube but has become even more ridiculous to find as of late because it's also great for the Wii. We have gotten accustomed to wireless this console generation and wired controllers can sometimes be hard to go back to. "That's probably Chris that has those" I yelled back at him. Knowing that Scott wanted some WaveBirds, I purchased one from Chris just the month prior and gave it to Scott as a gift.

Chris lucked out in arriving at our local Liquidation World (recently purchased by Big Lots) one time when the old Nintendo truck drove up and dumped its load of unwanted GameCube memory cards and shovelware titles. Along for the ride however, was a treasure trove of WaveBirds all new in the package that ended up falling into Chris' hands for a mere $10 each. Chris has been doling them out like the golden ticket and his ad indicated he had only two left.

As luck would have it, I had *just* been in contact with Chris the day before. He said he had a couple of computers he wanted to donate to the museum and I told him to come out Monday evening because that's our usual drop off night. I sent him a quick message asking him to to bring a WaveBird if he had any left with him, and that I knew the price was $60 from his ad. Keep in mind - I never did confirm the ad on Kijiji was his I just assumed. Scott told me he would grab me the cash when he left but in the end we both forgot and we always settle up later.

Monday morning arrived with its usual amount of stresses. Things needed resetting and propping up, computers need rebooting and cuddling and people tend to have forgotten how to use their keyboards over the weekend. I checked my e-mail from time to time, looking for that reply to see if I was going to be able to land this great find for my collection (I already have the Pikachu and Gold Nintendo 64's but having another one still pleases me to no end). Near the end of the day, it finally chimed into the inbox - the e-mail I had been waiting for.

"I have four people interested at $60 and I am waiting for calls. If none end up wanting to come to Simcoe for it in the next couple of days, I will email you."

Well if that just isn't a kick in the nuts. I suddenly had a vision of Conker's Bad Fur Day and my heart sank a little as I knew I'd never be experiencing it on the "Fire Orange" Nintendo. The seller's note left me with a small opening to negotiate however. It was pretty clear that the price was going to be $60, but a lot of people won't bother driving out to Simcoe for a variety of reasons. Some say it's the smell but for me personally I've had a hard time getting a good cup of coffee down there. Regardless, I wrote back and told this guy that my buddy works right near him and that he would be there the next day, cash in fist - all $60 of it. As I hit the send button I couldn't help but sense something familiar...almost like a disturbance in the Force.

My friend Chris arrives in the evening with the two computers and the WaveBird! He hadn't replied to my earlier message so I wasn't sure if he even had one or could bring it. We went to the bank and I retrieved his $60. I asked him about the ad and he said when he posted it a couple of months ago he was down to his last two and that someone who was vacationing from "somewhere" picked up one and now this last one has remained. He can now delete the ad.

After closing up the museum and checking my e-mail I received another reply from the Nintendo 64 seller. "No wonder I missed the Father's Day open-house, I have been a bit obtuse lately. I didn't realize that you were the same Syd from the computer museum." As I looked at the e-mail, it was indeed from "PRH" - the same person who I had a brief e-mail exchange with on Sunday about the museum. What are the odds? As soon as he realized who I was, he said that for sure to send my buddy over to get the system and he further elaborated that the Nintendo 64 sale was for his daughter which was partly why he was staying firm on the price. He then indicated he also had a small palmtop computer he would like to donate to the museum (which we don't have) and that Scott could get that too, at the same time.

As I tried to wrap my head around this strange coincidence and clearly inevitable connection to PRH (whose name is Peter by the way) my mind was further warped as I sent to the details via a text message to Scott. I thought about getting the money to him and then I realized that he owed me $60 for the WaveBird anyways, so he could just pay that to PRH for the Nintendo 64. BING.

It blows me away that the Nintendo 64 came from someone who had a connection with me earlier the same day, that the WaveBird Scott wanted was going to arrive from someone I knew and was already coming to visit me anyways, and that both transactions were $60 and most importantly - they were both for Nintendo products. It is one of those things that starts as a simple coincidence but then grows larger. Really, it's like a Seinfeld episode although not nearly as funny. Oh Nintendo, look what you've done now.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Great Divide

I am sure this doesn't really belong in the "Game Room" but I've talked about random stuff before and so today is no exception.

I have to tell you, I'm a little concerned about the cashier's at the grocery store. There needs to be some changes - albeit minor ones - if I'm going to get through the checkout without feeling somewhat angry.

You might be thinking "hey why not use self checkout and avoid this whole problem?". The answer to that is NO. I'm not being old-fashioned, I don't like self checkout (for groceries anyways). If I'm picking up batteries or a couple of items in an electronics store that's fine, but groceries require some skill to ring up. You might say I should know better, but if I have to flip through a catalog looking for the code for a rutabaga I'm not going to be happy. In most cases, the cashiers already know it. There are other reasons too but that's for another post.

Anyways, my main question here is----"WHY DO CASHIERS NOT PUSH THE DIVIDERS DOWN TO THE END?". Do they not realize how incredibly difficult it is for the person heading for that belt to get that thing? When it's near the cashier it's useless. Either I have to reach over someone else's groceries (which is just a no no in my book) or I have to ask the person in front of me to get the divider and put it down for me.

Which brings me to the next question - divider etiquette. I think you're only really responsible for the divider that goes between your groceries and the person in front of you. That being said, if everyone put a divider down AFTER their last grocery item, this would solve a lot of problems.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not putting this all on the cashiers. The grocery store chains have some responsibility in this too. They build lanes with huge channels for these dividers and then populate them with like 2 or 3 dividers. Come on now -- fill that space up with dividers. They have advertising on them and can't cost very much being all plastic, so why be cheap? Doing this would mean that the extra "push" the cashier has to exert would be reduced, leading to less instances of work injuries acquired from repetitively slamming dividers down to the end of the channel.

All I ask is that we all work together here. Stores - buy more dividers. Cashiers, exert a little effort and shove those dividers down to the end. And shoppers, be nice and put a divider after your food. You're only helping yourself in the end - otherwise you run the risk of a stranger leaning over your food or getting into your personal bubble. That leads to a whole other topic--- fragrances in a shared work place. I'm "divided" on that topic, too!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Creating MP3's from YouTube Videos on a Mac

Just realized I haven't written anything here in a while and what I wanted to talk about today isn't really game related, but I think it will be useful nonetheless.

With the shutdown of certain peer to peer network programs (like LimeWire) there has probably been a number of people having trouble getting music files. Now I'm not here to promote piracy, but there are times when I'm sure you'd love to take the music portion of a YouTube video and easily convert it into an MP3. Not just for music but other things, too.

There are a bunch of websites and tools out there to do it, but I'm going to share with you my method. I found that the online tools tend to be slow, inconsistent, and generally a pain in the ass.

Now the first thing you are going to want to do is make sure that your Mac can import FLV files into iMovie. Mine just started to be able to do this after installing the full Adobe suite which may be required and if so, sorry about that (unless you already have it). If you can drag and drop an FLV file into iMovie without screwing around you are golden.

The FLV file is the file that contains the "flash video" that YouTube uses. The tool that I use is the excellent iFunia YouTube downloader. It's free and you can get it here. Just go to YouTube, find the video you want and cut and paste the address into the software. No mess.

Now you have the FLV file, drag it into iMovie. Move the clip into the timeline and select "Split audio" from the edit menu. You will now be separating the audio from the video.

Now run a free great audio tool like Audacity. Arrange the windows on the screen so you can drag the audio track from iMovie into Audacity. Make sure in Audacity you have grabbed the LAME MP3 stuff to be able to export to MP3.

Once your audio is in Audacity you can trim it (if there is extra stuff at the beginning or end you don't want) or play with fading, volume, etc.

Now just export it as MP3 and voila! You are done.

It sounds like there is a lot of setup involved but it's really not that bad and once you have this solution ready to go it's very easy to continue to use it and becomes quite intuitive. Enjoy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Canadian Olympic Gold

I know I usually write about video games in this space, but today I just had to add my thoughts about games of a different sort - the Olympic Games. A recent article in the Star-Telegram really bugs me because it seems like no matter what we do, we often get viewed by Americans in a bad light. This guy basically beats Canada down for the fact that we showed a huge hint of patriotism, at the cost of failing to recognize that the Olympics are a worldwide event.

Huh? Clearly it's a worlwide event and one that gives each country a chance to be proud of its accomplishments amongst other countries. That's kind of the point. It seems like the minute we show the faintest sign of patriotism we get criticized for doing so. You're telling me the Americans don't act and do things the same way?

Having dealt with Americans my whole life I can tell you that like anything, there are exceptions to the rule. By and large though, most Americans I've dealt with don't seem to understand Canada except in the most stereotypical ways. We don't all live in Igloos. We don't all drink beer all the time (but I have to point out truly that ours is better), and we don't all sit around saying "EH?". We also don't mean to say "a boot" when we say "a bout" and I can also honestly say that we don't hear it that way.

I just don't get it. We're normally meek and mild and quiet about how we feel about our country. We finally stand up and actually show some of the patriotism that the Americans normally do, we get beat an American.

Wow. Ironic. And dumb. Clearly this guy is a hockey fan and he's just pissed. He's from Texas though, so he probably has a gun. A big one. Ouch, it hurts doesn't it? Just remember the stereotyping can work both ways.

I went to a Toronto Maple Leafs game last night and I can tell you that the pride for our country hasn't just ended with the conclusion of the Olympics. We were louder, prouder and stronger than ever last night when our anthem played. I was proud to take part in it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

New License Plate

So I finally did it...after whining about getting a custom license plate for my car I took the plunge and here it is! PCMUSEUM is exactly what I wanted and now that Ontario offers 8 digit plates I was good to go! Of course, I had to accessorize it with a "WILL WORK FOR BANDWIDTH" plate holder that I picked up from

So if you're out driving around town and you see this plate, you'll think of the Personal Computer Museum and come pay us a visit sometime!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Auto Incrementing with InfoPath

So instead of my usual conversation, I thought I'd add a "practical" technical experience I went through because I was not able to find the solution to this particular problem online. If I couldn't find it, perhaps other people out there have had similar issues.

I've been using Microsoft's InfoPath to create a form for Human Resources to do Performance Reviews. Various sections include parts where I wanted to put in a repeating table and although I found ways to "auto increment" an area there to number the entries the user added dynamically, I did not want to use numbers. You see, my sections are numbered and therefore this would just look wrong. It would be much better if my entries were incremented with letters starting with "a".

I wanted my repeating table to look like this:

1. Indicate the primary responsibilities of the position:
a) | User types in section A
b) | User types in section B

So in this table (with two columns, the "a)" is in a column by itself) I set the first "a)" to be an Expression Box. Then you can right click on it and select "Properties". The data source should be "XPath" and set the function to be:

concat(substring("abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz", position(), 1), ")")

What this function does is concatenate (join) the letter of the alphabet based upon how far down the list you are, and then adds the ")" at the end.

You can make this work with uppercase letters or change the ")" to a "." or whatever you want.

Seems easy once you set it up, but I struggled a bit at first finding where to put this. My programming background came in handy to create the function itself.