Guess what my dad bought?

This is so cool:

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My dad bought us a Wii. It’s been running almost constantly since about three this afternoon.

It’s awesome–and not just the games, either. The Wii also has a news reader, a weather channel, and a photo viewer, all of which are brilliantly designed. You can even download a web browser for it! The browser is a variant of Opera, and so it supports stuff like Flash and Javascript. We watched a Homestar Runner and a couple of YouTube clips on our TV, which was really cool.

And the games are fun too. Nintendo’s goal with this Wii was to get the whole family playing–not just the 18-24 year old males. And it worked! My mom and dad spent some time playing the Wii Sports bowling game–and my Mom scored a record high score, beating scores that my brothers and I had set.

One other fun thing is the little “Mii’s” that you can create. You can design little avatars that look like you or your friends, and then use those Mii’s to play some of the games. I hope that more games–not just Wii Sports–take advantage of this feature. At some point, I’ll have to post a photo of my Mii.

I love the Wii. It’s beautifully designed and fun to play with, whether you’re watching the news or playing games. (Thanks, Dad!)

Upstate Board Game Day

On Saturday, my brother and I made the long journey from Spartanburg into Greenville to a store called The Command Post. They were hosting the Upstate Board Gamer Group’s monthly Game Day. No Monopoly here; this was a day to play some of the less main-stream games out there like Settlers of Catan, Battlelore, Silent Death.

I’ve always loved good strategy games, and now my brother is getting to the point where he both likes strategy games and is good at them. I remember being in the same position that he’s in now: He wants to play games with people, but no one else really wants to play.

So this was really a fun time for both of us. We didn’t get there until later in the afternoon, so we ended up playing with each other, but we did get to find out about a couple of interesting games. We played Ticket to Ride, which I had heard was really good, but had never had the chance to play before. Yes, in fact, it is really good. It’s simple to learn and only takes between a half-hour and an hour to play once you know how (much better than an average game time of two hours for Settlers of Catan). We bought a copy on the spot.

We also bought and played a game called Starship Catan, a two-player game where you and your opponent fly a space ship around trading resources, developing colonies, and fighting pirates. This is also a fairly short game, though much more complicated to learn than Ticket to Ride. We’ve already played the game twice in the past couple of days. It’s a lot of fun.

You can see a list of all the games that were played at the event or you can find out more about the Upstate Board Gamers group. I’m definitely going to get there earlier for the next game day!

WordPress 2.1 Upgrade

I’ve upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.1. Let me know if anything looks out of the ordinary.

The only noticeable problem I’ve fond so far is that WP 2.1 broke my blogroll. I was using a customized bit of PHP to make my blogroll display just right. Now it’s throwing me a SQL error. It’s probably something simple, but I’m too tired to figure it out right now. So I’ve disabled the blogroll for now.

I may decide to just leave it. The Google Reader section of my sidebar lets me share the most interesting posts from people that I read. That way I don’t have to prune my blogroll for dead blogs. If you want a link in the sidebar, get me to subscribe to your blog and then write something good. My sidebar would thus only have interesting and up-to-date links. We’ll see.

The good parts: WordPress feels a lot snappier now. It’s also been automatically saving this post as I’ve been writing it. Other upgrades listed on the WordPress website.


Update for everyone who cares: I’m definitely dropping my blogroll. Personally, I never use anyone else’s blogrolls any more. I’d rather have the much more dynamic list of recently interesting content from Google Reader.

And considering that you can actually lose Google ranking if you have too many links on your page, it might even help drive traffic to my blog if I take down my blogroll.

I’ve expanded the size of my Around the Net box in the sidebar and I’ll try to make sure to mark any really interesting content as I find it.

By the way, if you want to subscribe to a feed of just the stuff I’ve been sharing in Google Reader, you can use this feed right here.

Great Wordplay

I’ve always loved good metaphors and turns of phrase. I value clever lyrics in my music and have subscribed to blogs just on the basis of a well-written phrase.

I also grow weary of the constant flood of advertising in American culture.

So, I particularly enjoyed the latest post from the Church of the Customer blog. The authors, Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba have written books and blog entries and podcasts promoting the idea of companies pursuing personal relationships with customers.

A company that waterboards society and its culture with advertising is an organization that not only lacks imagination and creative skill but is probably incapable of creating or maintaining any kind of meaningful relationship.

Like a sociopath.

Waterboarding society with advertising. That’s exactly what’s it’s like. Do we really need ads over urinals and stamped on eggs?

By the way, the audiobook version of The Church of the Customer, is really well written and well produced, and it makes some great points for anyone aspiring to build their business. They show you how you can build a community of loyal customers who double as “citizen marketers”–people who tell their friends about your products/services. They obviously know what they’re talking about, because I’m marketing their book to you and I’m not being compensated by them in any way.

Incidentally, they haven’t put out a new podcast episode in months. This makes me sad; it’s one of the few business podcasts I still listen to.

More Laptop Woes

I was working with my laptop at work today, and I heard a weird crackling sound. I looked around, and heard it again. It was coming from the power cord for my computer, from the black box that transforms the 110 volts from the outlet into 15 volts for my computer. Quickly I unplugged the laptop for fear of starting a fire.

So, my power cord has failed. I’ve ordered a new one, but thanks to MLK day, I won’t be getting it until Thursday, more than likely. I had checked Circuit City, hoping to find a local solution, but they were asking $70 dollars for it! I found my replacement for $20.

At least I get to work from home again this week!

The Death and Resurrection of My Laptop (Also, Photo Hunt: Technology)

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Wow. What a great week for this theme! First, as far as the world situation of technology goes, tech companies were showing off their newest and best gadgets at both the Consumer Electronics Show and MacWorld this week. Second, on a more personal level, my laptop died this week.

I had spent my lunch reloading the Engadget page liveblogging the Steve Jobs keynote at MacWorld. I hadn’t bothered to plug in my laptop, since I’d be going back to work after lunch anyway. So, when I got to work, my battery was just about dead.

I got to my desk, plugged in the laptop, and… nothing. The LED’s in the front did not light up. I wiggled the cord around, thinking that the AC adapter had gone bad (again). Nope, nothing. So, I plugged my iPod in, backed up everything that I needed onto it, and turned the laptop back off.

When I got home, I tested the AC adapter with the new multimeter I had gotten for Christmas. (I asked for a lot of tools this Christmas, and this was one of them.) It was putting out a constant 15 volts, which meant that it was working. The problem was the broken jack inside the laptop.

So, Tuesday night I spent an hour and a half taking apart the laptop to get to the part in question.

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The pin inside had broken off inside the box. So, I set about trying to find a replacement part. Turns out that it’s a stupid proprietary part that Toshiba sells. You can’t just go to Radio Shack and buy a new one. I even tried a specialty computer repair store in downtown Spartanburg; nothing.

The average price online for this box was $40, although I saw one guy selling it for $25. That is way too much money for a little box with a metal stick in it, and since I need my laptop for work, I couldn’t wait for them to ship it to me.

So I took a friend out to lunch. Drew is a friend of mine from college who I mentioned the last time my laptop was seriously broken. I took him (and my brother and another friend) to Sticky Fingers, saving them from the terrible fate of eating in the Dining Common for lunch.

Drew was able to fix the little box, as he is much more skilled with a soldering iron than I am. After I got the part back, I was able to reassemble the laptop at home. Amazingly, it all still works. I’m typing this entry on it right now.

So, on the downside, I was without my laptop for a couple of days. On the upside, I got to work from home for a couple of days. I got to eat lunch with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I got the experience of taking apart a laptop and putting it back together. And I got a couple of pictures for the photo hunt!