Finding Adventure...


So in addition to a whale cruise today I also went parasailing for the first time. What a blast! That's a lot of fun. Give it a try if you can...

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Dolphins up close and highly personal!

We went on a 5pm "cocktail" cruise with a whale watching company. We did see a couple different whales way off in the distance (and I got one mediocre picture of a whale tale that I'll try to post later), but the highlight was a visit from some bottlenose dolphins. They actually aren't known for being quite this friendly, but apparently we got a rare treat.

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OpenID and image and video tagging

For those of you who use Facebook (and I'd guess MySpace and others), you know about image tagging. For those that don't, well, let me explain it briefly. If you post a picture to your Facebook account that has people in it also on Facebook, you can opt to "tag" the image. A simple editor opens and lets you click an area around their face and then you select them from your Facebook friend list. Then Facebook keeps that data in a database and if you want to look for pictures of your friends, you can find them easily. It's very cool.

But it's also very Facebook specific. Why? Well, because Facebook has no other way to do it. Generally, people don't have any kind of Internet-wide identity (other than your email address, which is not something you want to "tag" based on since it gives your email address to anyone who can view said picture). OpenID has been formed to let people have Internet-wide identities, but it is gaining momentum VERY slowly. Google is moving to support it, as is Yahoo, but even those guys have been slow to do it (though if you have a Blogger account, you do already have an OpenID!).

I'm not going to explain it other than to say basically your "ID" gets tied to a web address. It can be one you own or you can sign up for one (like your blogger web page) and you can then use that as your "ID" to create forum accounts in other places, etc. They simply authenticate you against the Blogger ID instead of you having to create YET ANOTHER stupid forum identity. (You can still create a handle type identity on the forum for people to call you by, rather than them calling you by your web address.)

Okay, great. I'm not just Donnie Barnes, I'm also Nice. But until more sites support OpenID, it doesn't get me much. Hopefully soon more forum administrators will add support for it. If you want it, ask your administrators politely.

But what I want to talk about now is another way to put acceptance of OpenID, and that's to get support directly into image and video files to "tag" people with their OpenID. Then YouTube and the like could let you search for videos containing certain people. I'd also love to see support in video files (and video editing software like iMovie) so that you could "export" any of the text you add via text overlay (think titles, credits, subtitles, etc) as keywords that could be searched by search engines. Currently you can only do that by hand depending on the video hosting site. This should be IN the video/image file, not some proprietary attachment.

I think we're headed in this direction, but people need to start asking their software providers for these things!

More fun with iMovie and The Flip!

So here's a video I put together of snorkeling in Maui. Only a couple minutes long.

This one is getting published with YouTube instead of Blogger because Blogger won't let you make it bigger. It'll probably be lower quality, though. Tell me which you like better in the Comment section.

It oughtta be a law!

There really ought to be a law that hotels must advertise the height of their shower head. I'm really sick of hotels that have shower heads at 5'6" or so when I'm 6'2". It's a serious pain to use those, and I really think it could be a safety issue. While we can't really mandate what height hotels put them at, I think having to advertise the height would cause more hotels to fix their low shower heads for fear of losing business, and if they don't at least people like me could choose their hotels accordingly.
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Sea Life Park video

So here's my quick video from Sea Life Park, shot with the Flip MinoHD. It's edited with iMovie on the MacBook Pro and is just over ten minutes long. It took me less than thirty minutes to put this together.

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Video camera in your pocket?

Think it's too good to be true? A decent camcorder in your pocket? Think again. I just got a new Flip MinoHD and I love it. It's so easy you can't imagine. Hit the power button and hit record. No muss, no fuss. Hit the play button to go back and view your recorded videos. Want to watch them on a TV? No problem...the included cable has normal RCA video and audio plugs that work with almost any TV with spare inputs. But best of all, the ease of which you can send them to your PC is incredible. Pop out the included USB plug and just plug the entire camcorder into your PC or Mac. Copy the files over. You can upload straight to Youtube or your favorite video editor easily.

The video in this blog entry was shot with the Flip MinoHD and I should have more videos uploaded shortly. The zoom works, but I will say it's really just a digital zoom and thus when you zoom in you do lose some resolution. But it's simplicity and ease of use and size make up for this minor difficiency, in my opionion. It recharges from your computer's USB port and has one hour of storage built in (and probably not much more than that in battery life, but that's all you need!). It does take some time to offload the video to the PC...fifteen minutes worth took about ten minutes to copy over, so it's not terribly fast in that department. But that's WAY better than trying to send video tapes to a PC as that can generally only be done in real time.

Real camcorders with good optical zooms and other nice features do still have a place, but this thing is smaller than many cellphones people carry and thus you're likely to have it on you when you need it. That's worth a LOT right there, especially if you have kids. Oh, and the price is pretty good, too. At the time I got mine the HD was $230 with the normal resolution one at $170. Well worth it, I think. The video recording in any cellphone I've ever tried was pretty horrible. This is way better.
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Sea Life Park

Just a quick note...if you ever find yourself in Oahu, HI, check out Sea Life Park. The place is a little run down, but the shows are good and the kids can really interact with the animals a lot more than at places like Sea World. Well, assuming it's not crowded, which was how we found it. Here's a short video of the dolphin show.

The kids had a great time there. I would recommend eating somewhere else. The food wasn't horrible, but it wasn't very good, either. But compared to prices on everything else in Oahu, this place was pretty reasonable on admission.

I'll upload more videos when I have a faster connection. Shouldn't be but a day or two.

Before you press that 'Forward' button...


...stop. Take a deep breath. Go have that first cup of coffee. Or walk the dog. Or read a story to the kids. Or, well, all of the above. Then follow these simple guidelines.

Okay, there are three major types of things people "forward" via email to a LOT of people at one time. The first is chain letters. If you ever even considered sending one of these, seek medical attention immediately. And if you send one to me, you might have to seek medical attention! Basically, what I'm saying here is just don't do it. There is really no good reason. You won't get good luck if you send it. You won't get bad luck if you don't. It's just clogging the Internet for no reason. And you know that down deep, don't you? That's that delete button. There you go. It really is okay.

The second is the good old fashioned internet joke. Hey, if you have to forward it, feel free, but please don't send it to me. I've been on the Internet since 1990. I've seen it all. At least ten times. Really. Plus there are about a gajillion different places to go read jokes on the Internet already. If I want to read a joke, I'll go read a joke or two. Besides, it seems like most internet joke forwards are really things told as "true stories." And they aren't true at all. The one about the blond who thought she was shot in the head only to find she had a can of biscuits explode in the backseat? Not even remotely true, and it's just not funny if it didn't really happen.

The last is the most controversial, probably. The cause. You got it, you read it, and it tore at your heart strings. It made you tear up a little. Or a lot. Whatever. But before you go sending it out to everyone you know, please check its validity. The single best place to check is You can go there and search on just a couple words from the subject line or body of what you received and in most cases you'll find you're looking at something either fake or at the very least completely unverified and unable to be verified (which means it's fake). If you can't find it at Snopes, try Googling it. It might just verify. Or Snopes will tell you if you have a positive, too (some things listed in Snopes are indeed true...try reading up on the copyright of Happy Birthday for an interesting story).

Now, if you've sent me one of these in the past, please don't think I'm mad at you. I'm not. I used to do this kind of thing myself. But since I've found out that so much of what's forwarded around isn't true, well, I've made it my mission to stamp it out. And that not only means telling you that your Forward wasn't true, but it means trying to get you and everyone else to check these things first. If we work together, we can make the truly bogus things go away. But if you mess up and send me one of these, well, I'm likely to just point you to this blog post. If I did that and you read this far, well, figure out which category you're in and act accordingly in the future. No need to respond...unless I told you otherwise, I still love you almost as much as before you sent me that email. Almost. *grin*
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If I were president...

No, this isn't some commentary on how much better a president I'd be than everyone else. That would take too long. *gulp* Nope, this is about the things outside of all that in my life that would have to change if I were president.

First, there's basketball. My favorite hoops spot is near home in Chapel Hill, so that ain't happening. But apparently Obama intends to put his own court in the White House, so I could do that, too, and still play. It would be a different crowd, or I could just sneak my crowd back and forth on Air Force One two times a week.

Next is the car racing thing. This is a big problem. I'm pretty sure that you folks out there in taxpayer-land wouldn't appreciate me taking 20 weekends off per year to go race cars. So what to do here? Well it's obvious. I'd simply have to figure a way to race under a pseudonym with a disguise maybe only ten weekends per year.

Then there's all the blogging, facebook, and forum stuff I do. This part is very hard. I'm a big believer in being yourself online. I try to never engage in debates online with people who obviously maintain their anonymity online. I am me, no matter where I go for discussion, and I prefer to interact with like-minded folks (like-minded in that they don't care to be anonymous...if I only talked to folks who were like-minded about everything else I'd stay pretty bored trying to find someone to talk to!). They tend to only say things that they'd say in person and not "keyboard-commando" that way. The one true answer here is to just create an alternate name and still just "be me" and chalk it up to "dammit, I'm the POTUS I can do what I want." So I'd be Onnie Arnes online. Sure, people might draw a link, but then they'd be like "nah, couldn't be." Especially if I occasionally used some broken english.

Then there are my kids. Can the kids of the POTUS be in Boy Scouts? Can they play youth league basketball? I don't think we've had a president in modern times with kids younger than teenagers, anyway. And that was Chelsea and I don't think she got out and did much. I know I could show them the world from Air Force One, and I could say cool things like "because I'm the president!" instead of just "because I said so!" But would having them shadowed for like the rest of their lives by secret service be worth it? Eh, sure. I'm the POTUS.

I don't even want to think about what this would do to my wife. She won't let people cook or shop for her at home, and she'd get awful tired of aggravating the secret service guys to go with her every time she needed to run to Michaels. She'd be miserable. Plus I'd say stupid things like "we can have a chef and a shopper so quit whining to me about not having a Lowes Foods nearby...I've got to save the world AGAIN." On the plus side if I did have a race car accident and needed a reason why I was beat up I could just tell the world I said that to my wife and she did it. Poof, instant alibi.

I love me some college basketball and football. This one is a toss up. On the one hand, I wouldn't get to go to a lot of my favorite games. On the other, I could have some shlep of a staffer whose job it was to record every game I liked and then edit them down to skip the commercials. I'd be so busy that I wouldn't mind watching them a little after they actually happened if I could watch the condensed versions like that. Heck, I might get a high end enough shlep that he could put in replays for me automatically of plays I'd like to see again. But then there's the real plus side of being the POTUS when it comes to seats for all the biggest events! I know what you're saying..."but Presidents generally don't do that." HAHAHAHA. Sure they do. They just do it behind some one-way glass and make sure nobody KNOWS they are there. I'm the POTUS and nothing is stopping me from attending the SuperBowl, World Series, Final Four, and whatever else I want to go to!

On another plus side, I'm currently banned from buying a helicopter of my own. With being POTUS and all I wouldn't have to buy one BUT I'd still get to put a heliport in at the ranch so that helicopter the Marines have could fly me in. Then after I wasn't president any more I'd have to buy a helicopter. Wouldn't make any sense to have a heliport and no helicopter, now would it?

Hmm, I think it might just be too much. I know I could win if I ran, but I'm just not sure it's worth it...
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