Articles from Other

Funny Ads

By Michael Flanakin @ 12:59 PM :: 1780 Views :: Other :: Digg it!

There are some absolutely hillarious pictures on this weblog post Mobile-ready link. My favorites are the jewelry ads for innovation; the deoderant ad setup for offensiveness; the mousepad for pure, dorky genius; and the Volvo ad for perversion. Honestly, I love almost all of them. I'm not sure what marketing genius came up with these, but they did a great job! Check them all out, if you get a chance.

HD-Capable, Wearable Camera

By Michael Flanakin @ 1:17 PM :: 1721 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!

I've got another gadget Mobile-ready link for ya. Unfortunately, this one's still in the works and the details are somewhat fuzzy. Apparently, Fraunhofer Institute Mobile-ready link in Germany has developed a tiny, HD-capable camera Mobile-ready link. This interests me a lot because I've been looking for a wearable camera for football. Ok, I know that sounds weird, but I play football with a group of friends every weekend. Well, mostly during the NFL season, which is obviously wrapping up on Sunday. The guys have a website, make videos, and even come out with player cards each year. It's all fun stuff. To coincide with the Superbowl, we're having HBL Bowl 8 (I think it's #8) on Sunday. Fun stuff. Anyway, I want a camera to wear so I can record games from the players' perspective. The three things that are key to this are stabilization, quality, and size of the camera. Stabilization can be handled with software, but you need a high quality video to manage that the best way. Size is the obvious one because you don't want to wear a huge camera that would just be awkward.

Fraunhofer Institute's HD-capable, mini-camcorder

Searching for Philanthropy

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:27 PM :: 1771 Views :: Other , Microsoft :: Digg it!

I thought this interesting when I saw it, so I figured I'd share it. Whenever you search at Click for the Cause Mobile-ready link, Microsoft will donate to Mobile-ready link, an organization dedicated to improving the education of refugee children.

My Interests

By Michael Flanakin @ 12:44 PM :: 1816 Views :: Other , Research :: Digg it!

I've always been interested in what's next. Beyond that, I've always wanted to be a part of the research that goes into finding and honing the future state of whatever technology or practice is in question. Unfortunately, I've never really had the opportunity to work for a company that did such a thing. Well, I take that back... I've worked for organizations that had research labs, I just didn't work close enough to them to be a part of that research. After starting with Microsoft, I figured I might have the opportunity to do just that -- work with researchers on some next-gen concepts. Of course, I love consulting and I'd like to get settled in here (in Microsoft Consulting Services) as much as possible for the time being. Perhaps after a couple of years I'll see what my options are. One thing I like about consulting is that you typically bounce between projects fairly often. Unfortunately, my current customer has so much going on, I'll stay gainfully employed for the foreseeable future. Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing, but I'd almost like to see about taking a 3 month break to work on a research project. Of course, in the big picture, there's no telling how much I could gain from that since research projects are typically multi-year efforts. Right now isn't the time to start that, anyway, but I might have to start looking into it for the future.

Lately, I've been thinking about this a bit more as I try to put together what I'd like to do over the next few years. The main research area I'm interested in is software engineering. It's hard to define what I like, but if I had to, I'd say my interests revolve around best practices and making life better for the user. Again, this is still a fairly broad area, but that's good... there's plenty of room for improvement. As a matter of fact, I'm always trying to think of what might define "next-gen" with respect to various areas of software engineering and usability. On the software engineering front, I might ask how we can reshape the way software is developed by increasing productivity and integrating best practices where they make the most sense. I have several ideas around this, but the overall concept is fairly sketchy. As I mentioned, usability is something I'm also interested in. When I say "usability," human-computer interaction (HCI) comes to mind, but there's so much more. Everything has a usability factor -- perhaps that's an idea... calculating usability -- and that usability factor typically makes or breaks a product's success in the market. I'd be interested in finding new, innovative ways to streamline and replace antiquated practices. Most of what we do everyday is out of habit, so it can sometimes be hard to break those habits and make some forward progress. There are so many angles to take here, so I can't really get specific. I think it'd be interesting to see how much time is spent doing various tasks with this ultimate goal of determining where streamlined tasks could provide the most benefit. This would definitely take some time to determine, so it might be best limited to computing activities, which can be easily tracked and metrics obtained... well, easier than daily life activities, anyway. Just thinking of how to track this brings up a handful of very basic concepts on how such efforts might be better implemented. The possibilities are truly endless when you start talking about research topics.

I am interested in taking on a research project, but seeing as tho I've never done it before, I need a "mentor" who has more research experience. It would also be nice if the project had a smaller scope, so it didn't take a year or so to get somewhere. I guess my goal right now is to gain some experience researching a topic. Once I have that, I'll probably break off on my own to try it out. I may take on two mentored projects before doing one of my own, but I'd like to do both. Then, wrap that up by working on a Microsoft Research team, and I should have a decent research foundation to base a PhD on. I'm not sure if I'll ultimately get there or not, but I'm entertaining the idea. I don't like the idea of taking 4-6 yrs off of work to do that, tho. I'd balance the two for 8 before I'd take off of work for 4. We'll see what my options are. I don't need the paper to do the work, but it's nice to have the recognition for the effort and get a more formal background in research.

Win a $25,000 Computer Lab

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:30 PM :: 1612 Views :: Other , Microsoft :: Digg it!

I know quite a few teachers, so when I saw this, I knew I had to send it out. Apparently, Microsoft is having a contest Mobile-ready link at 34 tech stores throughout the continental US where it's giving away 34 $25,000 computer labs and 136 XBoxes. Totalling just short of a million dollars, the contest is aimed at K-12 faculty and students and their families interested in buying Vista. 

Windows Vista $25,000 PC Lab Giveaways (Jan 30, 2007)

What Supervillain Are You?

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:16 AM :: 1629 Views :: Other :: Digg it!

Back in June, I found out what superhero I would be Mobile-ready link. I didn't realize there was also a supervillain quiz, tho. Of course, once I found out about it, I had to take it...

You are Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
Lex Luthor
Green Goblin
The Joker
Dark Phoenix
Mr. Freeze
Poison Ivy
Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.
Click here to take the Super Villain Personality Test

The Butter Wizard?

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:34 AM :: 1747 Views :: Other :: Digg it!
The Butter Wizard Mobile-ready link isn't anything I'd run out and buy, but you bet your arse I wish restaurants would! Essentially, it keeps butter at a constant temperature so its easier to spread. How many times have you been to a restaurant and the butter tore up the bread? Too many times. I admit, this isn't anything all that exciting, but I thought it was interesting, so I figured I'd mention it.

Daily Giz Wiz's Slam on Zune Marketing

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:11 AM :: 1616 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!
A while ago, I subscribed to the Daily Giz Wiz Mobile-ready link feed, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it, yet. Basically, the show is a 10-15 discussion on a random gizmo. After finally getting around to it, I listened to an episode on Microsoft Bob Mobile-ready link and Zune came up. Well, specifically, the Zune marketing campaign's "Welcome to the Social" slogan. I have to admit I think the slogan sounds almost pornographic, but that's a whole 'nother post on a whole 'nother weblog. Their problem with it was that they didn't understand what it meant. They got so close, too. I thought this was obvious, but maybe it's just me. I see "Welcome to the Social" to be a play off the social networking concepts of Web 2.0. It seems apparent to me they don't really know that much about the Zune. Anyway, I just had to mention it. I still plan on listening for the time being. The fact that these are shorts makes me that much more willing to put time into listening to it. We'll see how it goes.

New Egg/A-Data Aggravations

By Michael Flanakin @ 11:01 AM :: 1873 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!

Back in September, I put in an order to New Egg Mobile-ready link for a couple of LCD monitors. Since I just got a new phone which supported SD, I figured I'd go ahead and throw a 4GB SD card on top of that. Life was good. A few days ago, I decided to give ReadyBoost another try since I updated to the Windows Vista RTM. Low and behold, I only had 800MB or so available. Now, this is definitely odd. I also use the card for my camera, so I figured I'd go ahead and remove any photos I had saved. The problem is, there weren't many. After removing them and formatting the card, I got a whopping 970MB available for ReadyBoost. Looking at the card in Windows Explorer shows the same. From here, I'm thinking that there might possibly be some issue reading the card, so I switch to an XP machine and guess what... 970MB. Now, this aggravated me, but let me just see what I can do about it; the problem seems fairly simple.

Here I am, on the phone with the first round customer service rep, Anthony. The guy asks for my invoice number and I ask where I can find it since I don't have the paperwork from the order. He tells me he's "frazzled" and wants to start over. Again, he asks for the invoice number.

Let me pause here to say I have no patience for stupidity. I can, however, understand when someone's having a bad day. One thing a lot of people notice about me is that I'm very understanding -- usually moreso than the vast majority of people. It's hard for anyone to make me mad unless I just don't like them or they continually do stupid things -- I'm also pretty good at focusing my frustrations, for the most part. The thing people don't usually know is how bad my temper is. Let me say that, if I don't feel like customer service is helping me, I can be customer service's worst nightmare. Don't take that lightly, either. I can be the biggest bitch you ever knew, if you make me mad. Anthony, here, was on his way to getting to know that side of me...

I kindly told Anthony I didn't have any of the paperwork from the order, so he'd have to tell me how I could find it. He stumbled for a moment until I asked if there was any other way he could look my info up. "Oh, can I get your email address?" Here we go... progress. We go thru the motions and I tell him I received the wrong item. Of course, Anthony isn't a tech guy, which is why he's answering phones. He proceeds with a line of questioning that basically amounts to, "How did you not know you got the wrong thing when you opened it?" His problem was with the fact that it's been over 2 months since I ordered the card. I understand the time delay, but knew I could get around any barrier they'd try to setup. I told him the packaging all specified 4GB and there's no way to discern the difference by just looking at the box. I admit, I could've loaded it in a computer and checked it, but I can honestly say that I've never done that, and I've bought dozens of these types of things in the past. Beyond that, he still didn't understand how I couldn't tell, so he changed the subject. Remembering I mentioned I didn't have the packaging, he said I couldn't return the item without it. Now, this is stupid. I knew it was something I could overcome, tho; however, first level customer service probably wouldn't be able to do that, so I pushed for the next line of defense, Gabriel, Anthony's manager. Of course, Anthony assured me Gabriel would tell me the same thing, but I wasn't jaded. "I don't care. I want to speak to him, anyway."

Apparently, Gabriel's busy; but he didn't have one tidbit to add: the packaging wasn't required. Alright, that obstacle's out of the way, so I'm fine with continuing on with the declining value of Anthony's support. He goes back to the issue of me not knowing the difference when I first got the card, so I asked if he even knew what an SD card was. He said no. Of course; that explains it. Apparently, he's thinking the difference would be as obvious as 14" CRT and 24" widescreen LCD monitors. This annoyed me. How can you provide support for something you have absolutely no knowledge about? He put me on hold again, for the 3rd time. His bumbling idiocy was starting to get to me; but that definitely peaked when he told me to call the manufacturer to have them troubleshoot the problem. I just laughed. This is where I stopped being nice. With language in check, I told him that no troubleshooting would resolve the problem and that I purchased the card from New Egg, and New Egg would be who I talked to about it, period. On hold again... Anthony checks back once and asks me to hold a bit longer...

Gabriel asks me to re-specify my problem and then starts a search to see if it's happened before. I don't like repeating myself, but I try to give every new level a slight chance to redeem their predecessors' stupidity. After a while, Gabriel finds out that this isn't the first time this has happened and will issue a refund. I'm fine with that. More pain than I'd like, because I have to go purchase a replacement on my own, but at least the problem will be resolved.

Just so y'all can watch out for the same issue, the card I purchased was the A-Data Mobile-ready link MyFlash Turbo 150x 4GB SD card. Fortunately, it did work with Vista's ReadyBoost (in the RTM release, at least); but I'll have to find another one, so it doesn't really matter, I guess.

If Apple Made Cars

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:19 AM :: 4012 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!

I'm sure everyone's heard the "if Microsoft made cars" joke, but a recent photo contest Mobile-ready link submission by Josephus to Woot Mobile-ready link definitely tops it -- ok, maybe I'm biased. Despite the third place ranking, I think it was the best out of these finalists.

If Apple made cars - By Josephus c/o

For anyone who doesn't get it, Apple uses a one-button mouse for Macs. This has been widely disputed over the years, but Apple never changed anything. Actually, I heard that there was going to be a change, but I'm not sure if that has happened, yet. Either way, this is great.