Call Santa 2011

Author: Steve Martin

It’s that time of year again. We have an exclusive direct line to Santa’s workshop. Of course Santa is extremely busy this time of year and very rarely is able to answer his phone but at least you can leave him a message. Tell him your name and how old you are and of course what you want for Christmas this year. If you would like a copy of your recording, e-mail santa to let him know when you left your message, your child’s name and age and he’ll do his best to e-mail you a copy of the message (fun to listen to years later). If you’d rather just e-mail him, you can do that too and he’ll be sure to reply.

Santa’s phone number – (424) 2SANTA3

Santa’s E-mail – santa@claus.fami.ly

You can visit his website directly at www.claus.fami.ly

Merry Christmas!

The Runners Club

Author: Steve Martin

It’s been a very long time since I have been a part of a club. I’m not talking about the official clubs like running cross country in high school, but the unofficial clubs that you become a part of simply by participation. The last time I felt part of one of these unofficial clubs was when I had my Honda Helix scooter. That thing was so fun to drive. I used to slap on my helmet and go for a ride with no particular destination just because it was fun to drive and feel the wind whipping around my body. Whether you ride a big Harly or a scooter, you are automatically in the two wheeled club. All the other motorcycle and scooter riders wave to you as you cruise on by because we are all a part of the unofficial two wheel motor club. We are friends even though we have never met before. I liked the friendly wave of the big Harly riders to me on my puny little scooter. It doesn’t matter what kind of two wheeled motorized vehicle you ride, you are automatically part of the club.

I have recently experienced this feeling again. I have taken to running a few times a week. I don’t run real far, usually about 4 miles each time I run and I’m not real fast, but it feels good to get out and try to push myself. Running is another unofficial club you automatically become a part of simply by participating. My neighborhood has a lot of active runners. We are all part of the runners club. We wave to each other without knowing each other or having met before. When you run, you automatically appreciate what you and everyone else is doing. It is not always easy to run, especially when you start putting on years like me. I was a much better runner in high school. Even so, I am enjoying it and grateful for all the other runners out there in our “club” silently encouraging my efforts and I theirs. Keep up the good work and thanks for the friendly waves. It’s nice to be in the club.

Now, to get another scooter…

Seat 1A

Author: Steve Martin

This weekend I went on a business trip to Colorado Springs to setup a network for a client. It was a quick trip flying out on Friday afternoon and back early Saturday morning. I arrived and completed my work at the airport and then headed to the offsite location to set it up. When I finished everything up and went to my hotel room, I had an e-mail from Delta for early checkin. I went ahead and clicked the link to check in and was excited to find that I had seat 1A. The very front of the plane. I would for sure be the first person off the plane and of course there’s extra leg room up there right? What a lucky guy I was. I didn’t even have to CHOOSE that seat, I was just lucky enough to get it by chance.

Seat 1A sounds awesome until you actually sit there. First of all I learned that the front row of seats does not have any carry-on stowing area. Since there is no seat in front of you, you have no place to shove your carry-on and they don’t let you keep it on the floor between your feet, I tried. I ended up having to put it about 9 rows back in the overhead compartments. That meant that I had to get out of my seat and head back 9 rows, open the overhead compartment and retreive my laptop for the flight and then go back near the end and put it back before we landed. I like to get in my seat and stay there the whole flight, especially on short flights like this one.

The next draw back is your tray. You don’t get one. It would be entirely possibly for them to install trays on the wall in front of row one, but they don’t. You just have to hold your orange juice and not set it down. Your laptop remains on your lap and that is pretty much your only option. I didn’t know how much I liked having a tray until I got seat 1A.

As for that extra legroom, that doesn’t exist either. I can generally stretch my leg out a little by sliding it under the seat in front of me next to my carry-on. In seat 1A, there is a wall. Just a wall. However, I did have a better view of the stewardess as she was texting pretty much the entire taxi to the runway. I didn’t know THEY were allowed to text while the rest of us had to turn our phones off. She put her phone away just before she had to sit down and get buckled for take-off.

And finally, the person in seat 1A is NOT the first one off the plane. In fact, you are just about the last one off the plane. Remember your carry-on? Ya, it is way back at row 9, so you have to wait for just about everyone to come walking past you on their way off the plane before you can finally go back 9 rows for that darn carry-on.

So, my advice for anyone flying, if you have a choice of which seat to take, stay far far away from Seat 1A. You’ll have a much more enjoyable flight.

One E-mail Changed My Life Forever

Author: Steve Martin

It’s funny how one tiny little act can alter the course of your life forever. Eleven years ago today I sent a short e-mail to a girl I had once dated and lost touch with simply because I had an impression to do so. I didn’t even have her e-mail address but looked it up doing a search online. That one e-mail found me my best friend once again. We got married 6 months later and that has been the best decision I ever made. I love you “Honey”.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Author: Steve Martin

It’s that time of year again. Santa Claus is coming to town to bring us presents on Christmas day. Since it can be difficult to actually see Santa before Christmas in order to tell him what you want for Christmas, Santa has created a website you can go to and let him know what you want. His site is http://claus.fami.ly. Be sure to visit the site and either call him or e-mail him at the info located there. Have a Mery Christmas.

Almost Missed my Anniversary Trip

Author: Steve Martin

My wife and I are planning a trip to San Francisco to see Wicked and play a bit as we celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We will be leaving in a little over a month and are very excited. We don’t get to do much for our anniversary usually but since this is number 10 we thought we would make it special. I mean she has put up with me this long, she should get a little something out of it.

So, the plane and Wicked tickets are purchased, the rental car is reserved and we are researching which hotel to stay at. Planning a trip is a lot of work and can get pricey pretty quick. But it will all be worth it in the end.

I almost made it a disaster though. Yesterday we went to the bank to cash a couple of checks. My wife almost always handles this (which is why I never have any money). This time she wanted to wait in the car with the kids and play solitair on my phone. So I headed in and gave the two checks to the teller and said I wanted to cash them. She asked for my driver’s license which is usually enough to get a check cashed. Well, she started asking me to verify the last 4 digits of my social security number, my address, the other person’s name on the joint account, my monther’s maiden name, etc. I couldn’t figure out why she was being so thorough. She finally said that she would go ahead and cash them but they aren’t supposed to without current identification. She said that my driver’s license had expired 5 month’s ago.

I was like “what the heck”? I looked at my license and sure enough, it was expired. And, since you have to have current and valid identification in order to board a plane, I would have missed my flight to San Francisco, seeing Wicked, and missed out on a very fun anniversary.

Thank you bank teller for being so thorough and letting me know that my license had expired. I have shown that driver’s license at a store I buy parts at many many times and they have never said a word.

Moral of the story is to do whatever you are doing to the best of your ability and don’t cut corners or be afraid to speak up when something is not right. If this teller had been too afraid to question my ID, I would have paid the price when I went to board the plane. So, thanks again.

After we got home, I gathered all of the required documents and headed in to the DMV and renewed my license. What a relief!

Graphic Design Critics

Author: Steve Martin

My wife is a graphic designer. She has been doing graphic design for over 15 years. I get to listen to some of her frustrations as she works with certain clients. The problem is that graphic design is so subjective. What one person loves, another person hates. So, she has to try to figure out what the client is going for and try to come up with the perfect design. Her clients aren’t always helpful in communicating their wants. Anyway, I found this little cartoon that shows how a lot of clients are when working with graphic designers. I thought you may get a kick out of it.

What the heck is Folding@home? That’s what I thought when I stumbled across a forum talking about “folding”. People on this forum were talking about their computer’s specs and processing power and how much folding they had done. It got me curious so I kept reading to see what they were talking about. I finally made my way to Stanford University’s website talking all about folding and what it is. It is very interesting.

Folding refers to protein folding and misfolding and how that relates to various deseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Mad Cow, Cancer, and a bunch of other deseases. When proteins do not fold correctly, there can be serious consequences  such as these and other deseases and conditions. In order to study the folding process, a lot of processing power is needed to do molecular simulations and calculate all that biological stuff. So, rather than spend millions of dollars building or renting time on a super computer, they have created one of the fastest super computers for free. It is made up of thousands of individual computers around the world. At the time of this writing, there are over 350,000 active CPUs which contribute to the project. That is quite a few CPUs considering that the project has been around for just under 10 years.

So, I decided to join the movement and contribute to hopefully finding cures for some of these deseases. It is fairly simple to help out, you simply download a small program from Standford’s site and install it. It will ask you some questions about how you want it to install and you are able to choose a username (not required) and can even join a team (also not required). If you would like to join my team, put in team number 183338 when asked. You can then track how much our team is helping and see your own stats for your username.

I have an old server down in my basement that doesn’t do much but sit there and drain my electricity. So, I thought I would put it to use doing something worthwhile. It is now crunching away on it’s first folding project. After you have installed the software, your computer automatically downloads a project from Stanford’s servers which needs to be computed. Your computer then crunches away on that project and does whatever calculations are needed. Once your computer finishes with the project, it uploads it back to Standord’s server and begins working on the next project. It can take days for your computer to finish a project. You’re probably wondering what kind of drain this has on your computer resources, well, it drains it a lot when the computer doesn’t have any other tasks to do but drains it very little, if any, when your computer is busy with other tasks. You see, the process is set at a very low priority. So, any other processes on your computer take higher priority than the Folding@home process. So, when your computer needs the processor to convert a movie file, or run your browser, it is able to take just as much of the processor as it would have without Folding@home being installed. Folding@home will drop to 0% processor usage if needed so that your computer can do any other tasks it needs to. On the other hand, when you are not using your computer for any processor intensive tasks (probably about 95% of the time), it will use as much of the processor as it can. So, you may see your processor at 100% whenever Folding@home is working on a project. Don’t be alarmed, it will allow any other task to use as much CPU as it wants to immediately if needed. So, it won’t slow down your computer at all.

So, why not give all of that idle processor power over to something useful and rewarding for everyone by doing your own folding. You’ll feel better about being a part of something so important and it it doesn’t really hurt you or your computer to help out. And agin, if you want to be part of my team, use team number 183338 when you install your software. Together we can be a part of the solution.

Call Santa

Author: Steve Martin

SantaOnce again I have obtained a direct line to Santa’s workshop. It is December, so of course Santa is VERY busy. Unfortunately he does not have time to answer thousands of phone calls personally. But, you can leave a message for him so he’ll be sure to know what you want for Christmas. His Direct line is:

801-738-0668

 

 Let him know your name, how old you are, and what you would like him to bring you for Christmas. And, if you would like to have a recording of your message e-mailed to you, send an e-mail to Santa at santa@claus.fami.ly with the date and approximate time of your call as well as the child’s name and age and Santa will do his best to send your message back to you for your own enjoyment (Ask your parents for help with this part).

Pass this along to your friends and family so they can call Santa too.  http://stevemart.in/2009/12/10/call-santa/

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Gift Pick 2

Author: Steve Martin

Ok, so I’ve found a few more of the 15″ Digital Picture Frames. There are a few different brands and I can’t say if they are any good or not. If I were in the market to be purchasing a new frame, I would still go with the Viewsonic I wrote about in a previous entry because I trust the name. But, these others may be equally good if not better, so who knows.

Pandigital PAN1502W02 15 Digital Picture Frame $149.97

Ok, so it’s sold out but maybe they’ll get more in stock. It was selling for $149.97. We had purchased a Pandigital as a gift once and the quality really was nice.

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SmartParts SP15MWA 15 Walnut Wood Digital Photo F $119.99

I have a client with a SmartParts digital frame that his wife gave him for Christmas and it also looks very nice.

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Smartparts 15 4:3 Ratio Digital Photo Frame $119.99

I tend to see a lot of the SmartParts frames available from many sites. Hopefully that means that they make a good product.

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Sunpak SF-150-42001SL 15 TFT LCD Digital Frame – $81.97

I’ve never heard of these guys but the price is sure right. Hopefully the quality is at least decent.

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I just double checked the prices before posting this. They could always change by the time you read this and they could sell out. Enjoy.