Category Archives: techno cool

Tornado Tracks

The graphic above is a beautiful rendering of tornado tracks from the last 56 years created by IDV Solutions. What a visualization of why there’s an area in the US called ‘Tornado Alley’, huh? They also have renderings per tornado intensity.

If you’re interested in tornado history, look no further than the Tornado History Project. The image above shows the deadly Joplin, MO EF5 tornado that killed more than 150 people on May 22, 2011.

I’ve been through hurricanes, flooding, wild fires, and even an earthquake, but thankfully I’ve never been through a tornado.

Luke Skywalker Lived Where I Live

This is possibly the best information I’ve ever discovered recently! And it totally makes sense. Ready?

Luke Skywalker (aka Mark Hamill) attended Annandale High School. I currently live a few miles from this Northern Virginia High School. He attended but didn’t graduate from AHS (he graduated in LA but whatever) because his father was in the Navy.

THEREFORE: Luke Skywalker’s father was in the Navy (which of course TOTALLY makes sense — he had his own ship!). Anakin Skywalker had a ship in the Imperial “Navy” and his son attended a High School near to me geographically. Therefore, I totally understand the plight of Luke Skywalker. The poor guy was moved around constantly but he wasn’t really all that interesting until he became a Jedi. I guess that might have happened in LA, but I dunno.

My iPad Apps iRecommend

I’ve had my iPad 2 for about a year now and every time a friend gets one, or I find out a friend has one, we always compare our favorite apps. So I thought I might as well put together a post about what my favorite apps are as of this post.

FREE

Accuweather – They just updated the app and it’s really slick. Easy to get the current weather conditions, what it’ll be like hours and days from now. Nice radar as well.

Weather Channel – This has been my go-to weather app for a while but Accuweather (see above) is starting to replace it.

imo.im – Do you like to chat? Do you use AIM, Facebook, Google Talk, Hyves, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, MySpace, Skype, Yahoo and/or VKontakte? This one simple app has you covered.

TuneIn Radio – Pretty slick in that you can listen to pretty much any radio station.

Flipboard – A beautiful and very functional way to consume your favorite news articles and even fun stuff too!

AP Mobile – Updated news from the Associated Press.

Google Search – Easiest way to search Google from an iPad.

Urbanspoon – Kinda like Yelp (see below) but only about local restaurants.

ONLY IF YOU HAVE THEIR SERVICE ELSEWHERE
These apps you have to have an account somewhere else first, but if you do, the apps are worth it.

Feedly – Do you use Google Reader to keep up with websites? You should. If you do, Feedly ties right into it making it very easy and appealing to consume web subscriptions.

Watch ESPN – It’s ESPN. Sports. Done.

Netflix – If you stream Netflix, you can stream it on your iPad.

Yelp – Best way to find local businesses with user ratings. I use it all the time.

Evernote – Might just be the easiest app you could ever use to keep notes, webpages, attachments, just about anything.

IF YOU’RE WILLING TO PAY

Angry Birds – It’s Angry Birds! Best game around!

Pocket Informant HD – Looking for one app to pull together your calendar, tasks, contacts, and notes into once place? I paid $10 for this and I use it daily to let me know what I need to do every day. It’s almost like MS Outlook but without the email.

NOAA Weather Radio HD – It’s good to have a weather radio. This one sits on your iPad.

ASL Dictionary for iPad – Want to learn American Sign Language? This might be the best video dictionary available.

iMovie – If you make videos, this is a real simple yet fairly robust way to edit your videos and publish them on YouTube.

So what are some of your favorite iPad apps?

Oh! By the way, here’s a tip for you from a pretty young but accurate kid!

Skippy the Jedi Droid

Did you know that in Star Wars lore, there is a non-canonical back-story about the R5-D4 with the bad motivator that Owen Lars intended to purchase from the Jawas? His name was Skippy and he was a Jedi.

One day, R5 removed his restraining bolt with the Force…Skippy wandered the desert for days in search of his destiny, until finally he was picked up by a Jawa sandcrawler. There he had visions of Darth Vader and Princess Leia, and met R2-D2 and C-3PO. Eventually the Sandcrawler stopped, took all the droids out, and lined them up side by side in front of Owen Lars and Luke Skywalker. Skippy immediately sensed the Force in Luke, and persuaded Owen to choose him. Skippy was ecstatic at the undoubtable destiny that lay before him and Luke.

However, R5 soon envisioned that, without Luke, stormtroopers would come and take R2 back to Vader, where he would be destroyed and Leia would be killed, leading to a chain reaction of horror that will include the Rebellion being destroyed, R2’s memory being wiped after 3PO refuses to translate his ‘rubbish’, and Luke dying on Tatooine without ever fulfilling his destiny. R5 knew what he had to do, and suddenly set off a mild explosion inside himself, leading Luke to believe that he had a busted motivator. Skippy then used the Force on 3PO, telling Luke to buy R2 instead. Owen did so, never knowing the great deed that R5 had just done.

iSalePrice for iPhone

My buddy, Blake at Viking Rick’s LLC, has just recently launched a pretty cool and free iPhone app that I wanted to share with you.

Ever been out shopping and you see a price for something and a sale sign that says it’s 20% off? If you’re great at mathing, you could figure out how much it costs in that noggin of yours. But then you see another item for a different price and a different sale offer. So you math that one out then add it to the previous sale price and now you know how much you’re gonna fork over at the register.

Or you could use iSalePrice and let it do all the heavy lifting for you. Simply pull up the app, type in your price, and scroll through the prepared sale percentages.

iSalePrice for iPhone

Once you have your sale price, stash it into the cart so you can price a few more items.

iSalePrice for iPhone Cart

Pretty slick, huh? Sure it’s simple and like I said, you could probably math your way through an entire sale section any time you felt like it, right? No? Okay then, head out and grab your copy of iSalePrice for the iPhone on iTunes.

I know it may seem like Blake is a nkotb (not to be confused with a former member of NKOTB) since there’s not a lot out there about this app, but he’s been a software developer since the late 1990’s (which included a stint working at Squidoo for Seth Godin). However, there is this review already out there.

Shop smart.

 

Space Shuttle in DC

Space Shuttle Discovery riding piggy-back over the Potomac River in Alexandria, VA

Today NASA’s OV-103, aka Space Shuttle Discovery was on it’s last flight mission. She was riding piggy-back on a Boeing 747 jet on her way to her retirement at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Northern Virginia (Chantilly, VA). The flight path took it from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, did a flyover at Dulles Airport, did 5 laps around downtown DC, then back to it’s landing at Dulles.

Luckily I was off today so I decided to head down to Old Town Alexandria on the Potomac River. Unfortunately I didn’t have the best information on it’s flight plans so she came in earlier than I expected. So on my way to Old Town, I made it as far as the intersection of Duke and Callahan at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. While sitting at that light, I saw her flying so nice and low, escorted by a fighter jet. I only had time for the one photo sticking my camera out the window.

If I had realized there would be 4 more laps I would have set up at the Memorial. Instead I turned around and headed back home to watch the rest of her flight on TV.

Living in Orlando for so many years, we got to not just see Discovery, but several others blast into space. It was always spectacular. We went out for a night launch in 1999 or 2000 as well as an afternoon launch in 2009. In the middle of those viewings, we saw it from our house many times. We even climbed up on the roof to watch it once! It was never less than spectacular. Oh, and the double sonic booms on her return would literally shake our house.

Space Shuttle Endeavor launching in 2009
Space Shuttle Endeavor

All of this reminds me of a video that has been making the rounds. It’s full of quotes from Neil deGrasse Tyson speaking about NASA…including this mind-blowing quote:

Do you realize that the $850 billion bank bailout — that sum of money — is greater than the entire 50-year running budget of NASA?

We’ve been fortunate to be a part of NASA’s Space Shuttle program for a decade living in Florida and now we got to witness with our own eyes the ending of NASA’s workhorse Space Shuttle Discovery here in DC.

UPDATE: Great video of the Shuttle flying over the Mall in DC made by Smithsonian Videos:

Robots in War

Robots in war

 A soldier pulls a small robot out of his backpack that shaped something like a dumbell and throws it over the wall. The little robot rights itself and starts rolling around the grounds, transmitting pictures via it’s camera. An infrared scan shows nobody inside, but there’s a bomb behind the gate. The platoon calls up its bomb disposal team…By May, real, throwable robots, called Scout XTs, will be doing jobs just like that.

Looking forward to this becoming a reality!

Get your website hosted cheap and good

I’m a fan and user of BlueHost as a website host and have set up several people up on them. Great support. Great product. I’m also an affiliate.

Today I found out (while setting up a friend with a website) they dropped their 3-year host plan, but right now the 12 and 24-month hosting packages are on sale for $4/mth!

This is a screen grab of part of the recipt after signing up my friend:

bluehost

So if you’ve thought about switching to a self-hosted website (like WordPress.org), this is a great deal. And I wouldn’t tell you if I didn’t believe in it and use it myself.  I have no idea how long it’ll last.

If you do it, please use this link as I will get credit for the referral. Thanks.