Hand-picked Freeware Portal

Filed under:Cool Stuff, Tech, Opinion, USOE, Work — posted by Tyler on March 27, 2006 @ 11:49 pm

Yalin is a co-worker and good friend of mine at USOE and he recently posted a page using the new Google Page Creator [pages.google.com] that lists all of his favorite freeware [ykececi.googlepages.com/]. He’s pointed me in the right direction on a few things in the past, so I think this list is worth having a look at. Some of it I already use, but it’s nice to have a place to go to find some other good stuff that’s already been tried and tested.

Stuff on the list that I vouch for and currently use includes:

  • Billy [sheepfriends.com] (an extremely small audio player with global hotkeys)
  • Notepad++ [notepad-plus.sourceforge.net] (a great lightweight notepad program, I use it to write HTML, with a few extra frills; like numbered lines for debugging Line Number errors)
  • Open Office [openoffice.org] (an office suite that doesn’t cost a dime and is compatible with Microsoft Office products.)
  • Firefox [getfirefox.com] (and all its extension goodness)

Stuff on the list that I’m going to check out:

  • SuperFast Shutdown (for when my ride home comes in and says “let’s go!”)
  • FreeCommander
  • Unlocker
  • Orphan’s Remover

Stuff that Yalin should add to his list:

  • AVG Free Antivirus [grisoft.com] (I’ve been using it for years on my personal computer and it’s been doing great!)
  • A few in the “Video Tools” category, which category doesn’t exist on his list.  I’ll blog on those another day.
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Reading C.S. Lewis to Sami

Filed under:Sami, Family — posted by Tyler on March 26, 2006 @ 12:13 am

A couple of nights ago I was eating dinner with my family and Samantha was going on about how she plays “Star Wars” and “Narnia” with her neighborhood friends.  She said that she’s always Princess Leia and Lucy.  She hasn’t seen either movie, but she seems to know enough about both of them to successfully make-believe that she’s them.

Heather and I discussed letting her see the recently released (December 2005) “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”.  I thought it might be too much violence for a 4 year old, but then again, I only watched half of the movie the night of my birthday because I was coming down with the flu.  But we both decided that maybe it would be best to read her the book first and then let her watch the movie.

We started reading the very same day and now we’re already on chapter four.  I read to her right before she goes to bed.  I remember my Mom sitting in the hallway between the two bedrooms and reading to us when we were growing up.  I really liked it.  I always hated it when I was too tired to stay awake for the story.  But my Mom was always nice enough to catch me up in the morning.

Griffin has been falling asleep before I finish each night, but Sami is wide awake and ready for another chapter.  She’s loving it!  It’s been fun for me, too.  I hope I’ll continue to read to her.  My good friend Josh has been a good example along with my Mom.  He read to her daughter and they finished tons of books together before she could even read herself.  I’m sure it helps in many ways.  Besides instilling the love of reading it should also create an even stronger bond between the two of us.  I reckon we’ll finish off the Narnia series and then move onto the Harry Potter series or something.

Any other recommendations for a 5 year old?  (She’s turning 5 on Tuesday and as excited as ever!)

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Ousland & Horn Arrive at North Pole after 61 Day Journey

Filed under:Inspiring, Cool Stuff — posted by Tyler on March 23, 2006 @ 11:57 am

I’ve been following the amazing journey of two amazing explorers for the last month. Borge Ousland and Mike Horn set off across the semi-frozen Arctic Ocean on January 22, 2006 in the dark of winter. They didn’t see light again until a couple of weeks ago, and then only for a few hours at a time.

Their goal was to reach the North Pole before the first sunrise. They missed that goal by a few days, but it’s amazing they made it at all. They encountered polar bears, swam through freezing water, fought an infection caused by toxic food caused by a possible fuel leak in their packs, dealt with breaking skis that needed constant repair, not to mention the 1,000 km walked through sub-zero temperatures in the dark!!

I’m truly amazed at the will-power of these two individuals. I certainly don’t see what would be fun about this expedition, but their journey certainly would make a decent movie. Set design shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Like me, my Mom followed their journey by reading their blogs. That’s one of the great things about this particular adventure; we were all able to go on it with them through the power of technology. My mom said in an email entitled “North Pole!”:

I’m so excited for Borge and Mike to make it to the North Pole tomorrow! I’m delighted that Mike is finally feeling better! It has been so fun following their progress every day. Thanks so much Tyler for your blogs that alerted me to this adventure…it was so fun to follow!

You can catch up by reading Mike’s blog or Borge’s blog. I’m sure we’ll get more information in the coming weeks after they get back. They’re hanging out at the North Pole for the next few days until a Russian helicopter can pick them up and take them to a base 100 miles away. They’ll be there for a week until a plane can fly in. On the plane will be their relieved family to celebrate this record breaking accomplishment.

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Tsunami Revisited in STUNNING Photo Essay

Filed under:Inspiring, Tooele, Cool Stuff — posted by Tyler on March 22, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

John Stanmeyer was in Aceh, Indonesia [KMZ File for Google Earth] taking pictures of the devastation that occurred at the end of 2004. We’ve all seen it, and it was absolutely tragic. When we got our own small version of a natural disaster in the form of Hurricane Katrina, we could relate to what it means to be displaced. I can only hope that we (New Orleans) can relate to the “after” photos [viiphoto.com] that were taken recently in Aceh by John and compared to the original. They are brilliant and they couldn’t have been planned.

John went back to the place of the original photos and simply took a picture in the same angle as the first. He couldn’t have predicted what it would look like just over a year after the tsunami, but it’s inspiring to see that people CAN overcome!!! And most likely they did it without a lot of heavy equipment and fancy tools. Pure willpower and human spirit rebuilt what could have been looked upon as hopeless and lost. And it didn’t take years to do (although I’m sure there are still places that need work) and I was especially impressed with how the earth made itself new and beautiful by comparison in such a short period of time.

Another project that is quite similar can be found on the Warshooter Blog [warshooter.com] which is where I found the link to John’s photos. I’m so impressed with the skill of the photographers to be able to shoot the photos at the exact angle that they took them at over a year ago.

This morning I was looking out our front window whilst waiting for my ride to work and looking at the beautiful snow-capped mountains of Tooele. I thought of how cool it would be to take photographs, snapshots in time, of the beauty that surrounds me and share it with the world. Then I realized that I’m not a professional photographer and the moment passed. But seeing these picture today inspired me again to pick up a camera and take pictures. But now reality has set in again…and the moment has passed. I guess I’ll stick to video.

I had to add a new category to my blog tonight because the others just didn’t do this justice. To me this was “Inspiring”. Give me your thoughts on the change! Is it just me or is this an unbelievable testament and example that no matter how bad it gets, we can get out from under it and not let it overcome us! If ever I have a bad day, I need only to look at the piles of garbage in these pictures and the wastelands of mud and then compare it to only a year later where the garbage has been taken away and the mud has been overcome by new life. Never lose hope, it can always get better.

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“Sheep Friends” Offer Small Apps for your PC

Filed under:Cool Stuff, Tech — posted by Tyler on March 21, 2006 @ 11:36 pm

Sheep Friends LogoI used to use WinAmp to play my tunes on my computer all the time, but for the last couple of years I haven’t for some reason or another.  I’ve been using Windows Media Player 10, but compared to WinAmp, it really sucks.  I really miss the shortcut keys that I got used to with WinAmp.  I’m sure that if I looked around I might be able to find a plugin that would give me that functionality, but I found something cooler instead.

Billy [sheepfriends.com] is an extremely small media player with surprising functionality.  My favorite is that I have my global shortcut keys back for play, forward, pause, and soft mute.  Listed on the Sheep Friends website are also several other small apps such as a lightweight calculator, conversion tool and calendar app.  Pretty cool stuff; simple, no frills and free!

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