United States Postal Service – Failure

I’m not sure how long I’ll go on about this, but I’m having an irritating time with the USPS. I know, I’m probably the first person to ever be irritated by the Post Office.

I received a wedding invitation that has an RSVP card that I need to mail. Now, this is overly formal, and in 2014, I feel like setting up a simple website or google form with a QR code would be preferable, if nothing else, for a solid inventory tracking system. The same thing is true for nearly any event, of course. I don’t usually dig QR codes… Actually, thats not accurate. I REALLY like QR codes, but can’t figure out where they fit. This might be it, honestly. 

So, if you’re getting a group together for anything… A child’s birthday party, a wedding, a cook out, anything, lets say you do this:

1. Create a form using Google Drive with 3 required fields: Name, RSVP (Going or Not), and total number of people you’re bringing. Now, of course, this could be adjusted to accommodate a wedding (since bringing 9 people to a wedding is rude) by saying something like “Will you be bringing a spouse or partner?” or something like that.

Screen Shot 2014 05 09 at 9 01 19 AM

2. At the top of the form, click “Choose Response Destination.” The software will default to a new spreadsheet, with the same name as the form. This is fine, click “Create”.

3. Click on “View Live Form”. Copy the full URL and head over to QR Stuff  and generate the QR code. Click “Download.” Boom!

Qrcode 22213695

4. Now, you can drop this into whatever invite media you’ve chosen, be it snail mail, or electronic. I’d also give a nice, short URL to access it for people who have no idea what a QR code is. I used Pages.app to create this little invite (from a  template, too), which can be printed and mailed, or emailed.

Screen Shot 2014 05 09 at 9 31 30 AM

There. Finished. Now all the tracking can be done easily.

The issue is, I think, that the USPS is running scared. Its not making money (NYT). The public opinion seems to be that the USPS needs to change. There are myriad reasons why the USPS is losing money hand over fist, so I’m not going to go into that. The whole Outbox debacle has shown that there are alternatives that could exist. Sending mail online should be as simple as using email, even if we need to use a third party solution. I can’t buy a single stamp online without using Stamps.com, or any other service, and a monthly subscription. Its really irritating.

Default Profile Setup – Windows 7

Ok, quick note… Today I learned that “C:\Users\All Users\Desktop\” is deprecated, and therefore inaccessible in Windows 7.

The trick is “C:\Users\Public\Desktop\”. This makes absolutely no sense to me, and I do not understand why this change was made. Whatever! Additionally, my Windows 8.1 box took an HOUR to install updates yesterday. Windows Update… Get it together!

Worlds best… in Frederick?

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Black Hog BBQ in Frederick, MD is so good. It sounds crazy to say “If you want the best BBQ I’ve ever had, go to a place in downtown Frederick, MD,” but thats my honest opinion. Weird, right?

I’m a huge fan of yellow mustard sauce (thats South Carolina style, if you’re playing along with the home game.) Everyone associates “Carolina Style” with that North Carolina vinegar-based sauce, which, when done properly, is EXCELLENT, is a far cry from yellow-mustard South Carolina style. I had about 5 trips to Columbia, SC for work, where I first indulged my curiosity in this style, and I really enjoy it. Black Hog has a yellow mustard sauce, and when you order their wings with this yellow mustard sauce, its like being air-lifted 600 miles south. So good.

The ribs are the star, though. They come in two flavors, dry (dry rubbed) or wet (kansas city style). The Kansas City style is the ticket, though, and its that sweet, spicy sauce that keeps me coming back. This place is just too good. The prices for a full rack of ribs, an order of wings, and a soda was $35, which is pricy, to be sure, but a really great deal. BBQ places in baltimore seem to have no problem charged $22 for a small rack, so when you get a plate like the one picture below, the cost is well worth it!

IMG_2112

Contracted

I just watched the movie “Contracted.”

Here’s the trailer:

So, I thought, “This movie looks pretty neat. There is a real chance to make a dent in someone’s thought process about sex and this times we’re living in. This could be great!”

I went into it with a very open mind. I’m going to put the jump here, so we can just talk about spoilers and not worry about.

SPOILER ALERT! If you do not want this cinematic masterpiece to be spoiled, do not read below.

Continue reading Contracted

Mail Clients

Mail applications seem to have become increasingly popular as a “revolution to the way you work.” I just got an email for Mail Pilot, which promises to allow me the exciting ability to “Experience intuitive email with a simple, task-oriented approach.” That might be awesome, but I’ll never know.

Email to my personal accounts is usually not that serious. I don’t know if I’m in the minority here, in that I do not use imap, pop, or gmail for my work email… My work email being the one that could TRULY benefit from a simple, task oriented approach. Mailstrom is another one of these email services… 

All o these things offer truly innovative features, and are really fantastic. BUT, none of them support MS Exchange, so they are completely useless for those of us with work email hosted in a Windows environment.

Spreadshirt

I started a store on “Spreadshirt”. Its a pretty neat site, where you can, essentially, open up a store, like cafepress. I’m not sure I notice a REAL distinction between cafepress and spreadshirt… The possible exception being a stigma related towards cafepress products. I made these shirts because I think they’re cool, and I would (and DO intend to) wear them.

The site is embedded up at the top (See T-Shirt Design in the top bar). You can also head over to the ACTUAL site, on spreadshirt’s site at http://wolcott-tshirt-explosion.spreadshirt.com

Cameras and Live Events

So, the yoga folks are having an event nearby, called the “Mid Atlantic Yoga Asana Championship.” Yes, it DOES seem counter-yoga to have a competition, in fact, that was the first question I asked, after a good, long eye-brow-raise. They’ve assured me that its more of an exposition. Either way, I was curious.

Turns out they have no A/V support, and since I certainly can’t help with the actual yoga, I sure can try to help with that. So, after touching base with the ringleader, I found out that I’m not going to have any internet. That creates… issues. That means we’re totally not going to be able to stream this shin-dig. 

So I had to take a step back and say “What are we doing, and how can we do it?” Lets check some goals:

  1. Stream the event for people not in the room.
  2. Record the event for historical purposes.
Ok, so lets start with the first goal, streaming the event around the building. When we first got Ganon, I set up an old iPhone as a webcam that streamed to the world. Now, that could come in handy here. 
First things first though, I’m not going to have Internet, so I’ll need to bring my own router / access point. I have an older router with DD-WRT on it, which will help, thanks to the additional functionality added. Crack into your router and get your iPhone’s wireless MAC addresses, and give them static addresses. In my examples, I’m going with 192.168.1.20 and 21.
The app that allowed this is from iViglio, its their SmartCam+ App. Now, of course, with this app being free, there are ads and other junk on their app’s embedded web server. That makes it difficult to USE the image, if you wanted to aggregate a bunch. Luckily for us, you can right-click on the “video,” and click “Copy Image URL,” because, as you’ve just discovered, you’re not actually looking at a picture, but a Motion-JPEG. So we can whip together a very quick website to display these.
I’m using an iPhone 4 and and iPhone 4S, so my image sizes are different, so I added the width and height fields to make sure they looked just the same (although the iPhone 4’s picture is noticeably grainier). In my testing, I’ve just put this file on my mac as the web host. That’s likely what i’m going to do the day of the event too. Make sure, back in your router, you give your web-host a static IP address. Next, we’re going to make this show up on everyone’s phones…
Download the iPhone Configuration Utility. This will allow us to send anyone that wants one a configuration… So that we’re not goofing with everyones phones the day of the event. 
Create a new configuration profile, and have it join your wifi, and put a Web Clip on the device that points towards your mac’s static IP. Pick an icon if you want. Share the profile, signed, if you’re worried about the passcode to your wireless getting out. I usually email it to myself so I can shoot it around if I need to. Android people can do it the hard way, I guess. I’m certain there is a way to do profiles for Android, I just don’t have any knowledge of how its done. 
The very last step will be to decide if you need to use WDS to extend your wireless network into other sections of the building you’re setting this up in. I’m not certain yet that I’ll need to do this part, but will likely have it set up, just in case its necessary. Always better to be safe than sorry. Anyhow, it works pretty well. I’m not sure what the load on the phones / server will be. I would hope that these devices, especially if plugged into AC power, would have more than enough means to carry on with this task for hours. I may try testing, depending on how many devices I can get my hands on. I bet I could get 15 devices if I took this mess TO yoga. 
The only additional concern I have is whether or not people will think this is ultra ghetto. Its going to be tripods with iPhones on them… I don’t know what else i can do with such short notice, and anyway, its technically feasible!

I missed the Baltimore Half Marathon Today

And it taught me a lesson about being humble. 

i have been registered for this event for 8 months, a long time. i’ve been talking about, hyping it up, amassing support, and everything. I’m a runner, nothing will stop me from running. Not the rain, nothing!

And then I basically ruined my neck the day before the race. This is where it hurts!

Google Image Result for http www crossfitforglory com wp content uploads 2012 09 sub inline imgs sheetneck jpg

I have never had neck injuries that stopped me from doing anything. Sure, a little crunchy, a little crack here and there, a little soreness, but never “ouch, you need to lie down and not get up for a few days.” The good news is that I had already taken off next week so that i could just chill out. That also means the bad news is that my “stay-cation” could be ruined by recovery. A friend asked me to watch his dog while he’s on a trip, so Wednesday through Sunday, so that should be fun. Classic derp action. 

Anyhow, my neck feels better today than it did yesterday, so as long as we continue in the “feels better than it did yesterday” trend, I should be right as rain in a couple days. Anyhow, I guess the moral to the story is: don’t hype yourself up too much, or people will be bummed when you have to quit because some bullshit happens.