Friday, July 28, 2006

Metro Poledancing Nobody Cares For

When the Metro is crowded, an item like personal space becomes scarce and finding a place to grab for balance during the ride quickly vanishes. One reason I find myself playing upper-body Twister during crowded rides are Metro Poleblockers (MPs). Not to be confused with its euphenism (Not Safe For Minors), an MP is someone who leans his/her entire body along a Metro pole, thereby blocking anyone from getting a grip for balance. I recognize that leaning on the pole helps you Stanap, and is easier than testing your wrist's tendons when a Metro car is coming to a stop. However, when the train is so crowded you not only find out everyone's perfume, but their favorite toothpaste (if you're that lucky they used some), MPs deny valuable anti-falling over assistance when its most needed.

Whatever it takes to grab space on the Metro.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm still here, just giving my keyboard a break

Fear not faithful readers, I am around, but haven't felt like typing at home when I spend all day at the keyboard. I should have a few posts (probably about my favorite topic, the Metro) this weekend. Until then, enjoy this link to The DCeiver and its take on the Hill's list of 50 most beautfiul people.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Save YouTube Videos

In my neverending quest to compile sports videos that I only seem to enjoy, YouTube has always been a great tease - Many videos to watch, but none to download for offline viewing. I did some googling and found a pretty simple way to save videos. There are other methods out there, but this works for me.
  1. Find the YouTube video you want to save and cut the page's URL.
  2. Paste the address in and select "download".
  3. In a few second, you'll be given a link for downloading. Right-click and select "save as...". Title the file whatever you want, but ensure you add ".flv" to the name. Hit save and the download starts (of course!).
  4. Now that you've got your file, you'll need an FLV player/encoder. I like Riva's FLV program.
  5. Once installed, all saved FLV files will play (in a small, non-resizeable window) on your computer. Since it's a small window, I suggest changing the format into something more usable like MPEG because it doesn't seem to like WMV.
  6. Open the encoder that was also installed and select the FLV file. In the "Output" file name box, change the extension to ".mpeg" and hit "Encode". I don't know enough to mess with the default settings, so I don't touch'em.
  7. Though the program will dim and look frozen, it'll eventually "unfreeze" and you'll have a YouTube video on your hard drive. There seems to be a slight quality loss, but at least you've got your video now.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I Have Divorced My Freshman Computer

I finally threw away the computer I first received back in September 1998. The hard drive wasn't responding well and we've a newer computer already in the apartment so it was time to part ways. Despite an ominous start when the hard drive crashed in the first month, this computer kept chugging along, even as I tinkered with it, for better and for worse. This computer was my experiment that taught me how to do (now very simple) upgrades like increased RAM, new Ethernet card, CD burner, and BIOS settings. After trying to get a DSL connection working with my Windows 98 (which MS just stopped supporting), the computer was upgraded to Windows 2000 which significantly eased my connection issues. Installing the CD burner was a great learning experience about master/slave cables and proper pin connection placement.

No hard feelings, right?

The video card on my Dell Dimension 350 (that's for its blazing fast processor) was much too slow for any modern videogames, so my microsoft sidewinder was relegated to Fifa '99, Wipeout XL, and any number of emulators and roms when I was in the mood for old school games. I didn't mind this weakness because my roommate's Playstation served my playing needs well enough. Not to mention, at the time, the "large" 10 GB hard drive didn't have much room for game files thanks to Napster and my room's shared T1 connection. Fortunately this computer was always there for procrastinated schoolwork. From compiling my radio class final project throughout the night after my first project fell through, to MS word and HTML processing, I never experienced any error messages when facing a deadline. In fact, I never saw the blue screen of death until this year and it never had any viruses.

I ain't paying no alimony!

Though there were many great advances in computers and the Internet from 1998 to 2006, the mains ones this computer experienced (and ones I can remember) were in:

Web browsing: Netscape Navigator to Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox

Instant Messaging: ICQ (pronounced "I-seek-you") to AIM/Yahoo!

Operating System: Windows 98 to 2000 to XP (installed only at the end to recover data from broken hard drive)

File sharing: Napster to MD network of shared drives/terpshare/terp underground to Gnutella to KaZaa (only for a day because of its spyware) to bit torrent

Fantasy sports: Smallworld to to Sandbox to CBS.Sportsline to Yahoo

To this fine computer that taught me a lot about how computers work and how to fix them, especially when I was the reason it needed fixing in the first place, and never crashing when it held the only copies of my school papers - thanks for the memories.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Georgetown University Shuttle Drivers Know Better

You'd think that Georgetown University shuttle drivers (GUSDs) know Georgetown streets, lights, and traffic patterns better than anyone else. Therefore, this intimate knowledge should position them for smooth lane changes and actually help the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, GUSDs have recently forgotten when it's appropriate to change lanes and where they need to be to make a few left turns around the Key Bridge. Several times in the last few weeks, as us courteous drivers got in line in the left lane of the key bridge to turn left onto M Street, a GUSD pushed his way into the left lane, just when it splits into two left turn only lanes. Come on. A GUSD can clearly see the line of cars waiting in the left lane, yet he still drives up to the end before getting over. It's not like the traffic pattern changes each day.

Your bullying ways aren't appreciated.

Not only should GUSDs know to get over much earlier, they're also so high off the ground they could easily see the left turn only lane signs before getting onto the Key Bridge in the first place. I'm sure Georgetown covered the rules of the road before giving GUSDs permission to be out on their own. There's no excuse when they bully their way into the lanes. The M street and Key Bridge interserction has several turn only lanes that, if you're new to the area, you may not realize you need to get over a few yards earlier. That's fine. I'll let you in, but this does not apply to GUSDs who regularly violate the "you should know better" rules of driving in the area.

Taking the left turn too early.

A GUSD waiving a hand to thank a driver for letting him over is also bogus. It's not like the lowly compact sedan driver (who got over when everyone else did) had much choice - a shuttle is only 7 times the car's size. Unlike other DC drivers, a GUSD has a huge sign that implies they often drive a specific area of town, so it's time they act like it.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Less College T-Shirts Means I'm Getting Older

I admit it, I'm getting older (and not just because of a smaller AIM buddy list). Clearly on the second-half of my 20's (what my dad sagely called "your greatest decade" because of the many great life events during this time), I have almost completly weaned myself away from my bachelorhood college days. The last pieces of evidence in my room from college besides that diploma thingy, are the remaining t-shirts that were much to easy to get all over campus. From Cole Field House basketball shirts to Byrd Stadium handouts with the MD - Testudo seal, it was easy pickings as long as you didn't mind being a billboard for Pepsi or Chevy Chase Bank. As a college student, each t-shirt was another day I didn't have to do laundry.

Red shirts hide stains and have a longer shelf-life than whites, but eventually these have to go too. Only to immediately be replaced with a new one.

As the months since graduation pass, these shirts and I are showing our age. I apologize for too much information, but the white shirts are now replete with some oh-so-attractive yellow armpit stains that have solidified and crusted over (as if you've never had shirts stained like this!). In a sign of maturity or more likely common sense, those shirts have long since been thrown away. I tried salvaging a few by just cutting out the sleeves, but like water damage in a house, once it's there, you can't avoid the mold. I'm down to about seven shirts that will be thrown out soon enough as my balancing scale of college t-shirts dwindles on one side and my age rises on the other. It's a great excuse to buy more gear.

Enjoy this white one while you can. Soon it'll be thrown away and you won't be in college anymore.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Kobayashi Does It Again

Once again Takeru Kobayashi won the hot dog eating contest. For a second I thought newcomer, Joey Chestnut (and his 50 hot dog qualifying total) would dethrone the champ, but I was wrong. Kobayashi not only beat Chestnut, but he also set a world record in the process at 53 3/4 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. I think Chestnut wins the title next year because he only finished 1 3/4 dogs behind. In fact, Chestnut was leading midway through until Kobayashi showed he has the heart of a champion.

So if I eat over 24,000 mg of sodium in 12 minutes, I can also get a 6-pack?

I think Kobayashi has hit his hot dog eating limit as he has neared, but never broken 54 the last few years. Meanwhile, Chestnut's ability continues to rise. It was also good for future competitions to see so many other competitors easily break 30 hot dogs. While Kobayashi set the bar high a few years ago, everyone is catching up to him as his (still very high) totals remain stationary. I also find it comforting that competitors who don't have outrageous gimmicks (yes, I'm talking about you, Eater X. The Ultimate Warrior would like his facepaint back) always do well. Kobayashi, Chestnut, and Sonya Thomas don't do anything other than get up there, stuff their faces, avoid a reversal of fortune, and win.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fancy Construction Scaffolding - Only In Bethesda

As I made my way to downtown Bethesda for some Ben and Jerry's yesterday, I walked along Woodmont Avenue toward Old Georgetown and a construction site for new condos. Such sites are nothing new for the area so I thought nothing of it, let alone the fixture I'd walk under alongside the big tonka trucks being used. Maybe it's because I was in Bethesda or maybe it's because someone had some extra time and money to spend, but the scaffolding over the sidewalk was the fanciest I've ever experienced.

Scaffolding usually looks like this...

...or this...but not in fancy shmancy Bethesda.

Not only did it have wooden boards painted a nice white; it had an arched ceiling; lights strung along the entire path; a rubber carpet path; and peepholes at different heights, to checkout the worksite, that were painted to look like the 25 cent binoculars you find at the Empire State Building, etc. I know I'm making too much of this, but I am so impressed that a construction site afterthought was so well done that I had to let you know of Bethesda's newest tourism attraction.

Cathedral ceilings are just the start of a scaffolding in these parts.